Janet Recinos is in her happy place, serving up delicious pupusas from her mobile kitchen. Her bright, orange-coloured food truck/trailer called The Pupuseria is hard to miss next to the Courtenay Slough.
She runs the food truck with her twin sister Lorena. They’re happy to bring one of the best treats from their culture to their neighbours.
Pupusas are a popular gluten-free El Salvadoran dish made of a thick corn tortilla filled with anything from meats to cheeses to refried beans to pork to zucchini/Spinach. Recinos’ shredded pork pupusas topped with fresh salsa from her mobile kitchen are super delicious.
“This is real El Salvadoran food,” she says.
It’s a taste of the country her family was forced to flee as refugees more than 30 years ago.
In 1990 Recinos, her 4-month-old daughter, mother and six other family members left war-torn El Salvador.
Their father was a government pilot and also owned a 500-acre farm. Unfortunately, he became a target in a vicious civil war, so he made his way to Canada earlier. However, problems with immigration paperwork had left the rest of the family stuck in Costa Rica for almost a year.
“At one point, we had guerillas living on the farm, and then next there were soldiers,” Recinos told ComoxValley.News.
Eventually, Recinos’ family reunited in Canada. Soon after, they landed in the Comox Valley thanks to a government program that allows private groups or citizens to sponsor refugees.
At the time, Recinos didn’t know what would happen. She hoped for a new life and a fresh start in a peaceful and prosperous country.
When she arrived in the Comox Valley, she barely spoke a word of English.
“It felt like paradise,” Recinos said, remembering her first impressions.
In the ensuing years, Recinos made a big impact on her adopted community. After learning English and studying to be a cook at North Island College, she was hired at Glacier View Lodge, an assisted living home in Courtenay. Recently Recinos celebrated 25 years on staff.
Along the way, she raised four kids. And somehow, she finds time to run a food truck with her twin sister Lorena, sharing a taste of Central American cuisine with the rest of the Comox Valley.
Recinos has only returned to El Salvador once since leaving. The Comox Valley is now her home.