If you ever travel to Guatemala you are bound to run into a curious sounding two-syllable word that is used to signify that something is specifically and definitively Guatemalan. The word is “Chapin”. Chapin in the singular, and Chapines plural, is a nickname given to Guatemalan people or things. The origin of the word refers to a type of sandal that was brought over by the Spanish in the XV century and was very popular in the newly founded Guatemala at the time.
Why do I mention this? Well, in general I love all things Chapin, but particularly one of my absolute favorite dishes in Guatemala. It is most likely on every menu at every comedor (mom and pop restaurant), in markets, traditional restaurants and of course in every Guatemalan home. It is the very delicious Desayuno Chapin (Chapin Breakfast).
Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day and the Desayuno Chapin is by far and away my preferred breakfast. It is simple, humble, addictive, filling and incredibly tasty. It consists of 2 eggs either revueltos or estrellados (scrambled or fried), frijoles volteados (refried beans), plátanos (plantains), a slice or two of queso fresco (cheese) and a hearty stack of freshly made tortillas.
Tortillas are perhaps the most important part of the experience for me. They are the blank canvas ready to be painted with whatever scrumptious combination your Chapin heart desires. I am a very sweet and savory type of person so my perfect combination is a thin layer of beans, eggs, queso, and perfectly browned slice of plantain... and a generous coat of red picante tomato sauce! I promise whatever combination you come up with you will love!
Of course I couldn’t write about breakfast in Guatemala and not mention pan dulce (sweet bread). If a quick breakfast is your thing and you have a bit of a sweet tooth then this is probably right up your alley. Pan dulce can be found at any respectable neighborhood bakery or shop. Molletes, chirimuyas, besitos, lenguas, and champurradas are a few of the most traditional. My family is big on champurradas. They are long, thin and covered in sugar, making them the perfect shape for dipping in your coffee like my grandad used to do every morning.
For those of you used to a rushed breakfast in the mornings as you head off to work, this may sound a little strange but breakfast in Guatemala is truly an experience! And one that I hope you get to enjoy. It’s one of my favorite things about our beautiful heritage. So don’t wait any longer and come for a visit your tastebuds will never forget!
And remember, no matter where you go in Guatemala always start your day with a Desayuno Chapin!