foodie: topado, livingston

Something fishy is going on in Livingston.

The aroma of a fisherman’s daily catch fills the air not three minutes walk from the main pier as it dries in the sun. Yet, nary a brooding feline can be spotted pawing at the rickety table, trying to pilfer their own samples. The street-smart alley cats of this town are in on a secret; they cunningly know there is much better aquatic fare on offer in the bins of of local restaurants, for this is a town that specialises in Topado, and is enjoyed by many a tourist passing through.

Ostensibly a seafood coconut soup, the dish houses whatever marine life is available that day. Crab, conch, shrimp, squid and fish are all known to make an appearance alongside plantain, peppers and chilli.

In its most authentic form, its taste mirrors that of a bland Thai green curry, with the abundance of seafood tending to dominate other flavours.

Eating it is a messy affair with a lot of manual cutting, breaking, snapping and filleting required to access to the best meat. Those in the know will have a steady supply of napkins to mop up the inevitable mess.

Those not overly keen on the taste or texture of seafood, but still wishing to sample the dish are advised to go for the pared down version including only a few of the above ingredients; the prawn and fish ensemble has a more universal appeal.

A number of restaurants offer Topado (ranging from $50-90 GTQ), with hostels and guidebooks recommending the Rolls-Royce version served up at 'Casa Nostra' ($85 GTQ – pictured). If you want to try a bowl of topado made with your own fair hand, it is possible to take a class at Rasta Mesa

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