Friday, July 10, 2009

The Long Silence, Honduras, and Musings on Fried Food

Dear Readers,

I know it has been a long while since I've penned an entry here, and for that I apologize. As some of you know, I have been in Honduras for the last month running an archaeological field school (you can check out our blog here:

Given my long interlude south of the border, I thought I'd share some information with the interested reader on Honduran cuisine.

Honduran food is simple and revolves around corn (usually in the form of corn tortillas), beans (usually fried in shortening), and easy to store veggies (such as cabbage, cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes). Unless hot sauce is added as a garnish, the food is, as a rule, not particularly spicy. Chicken is also a big staple. In fact, one of the most classic Honduran foods is....fried chicken. They marinate it in spices, dredge the pieces lightly in Maseca (corn flour), and then fry the hell out of them in shortening.

Typically served with fried green plantains or fried potatoes, cabbage, and sauce (usually katsup mixed with mayo), this is a dish you'll find served in most rural homes and local restaurants.

Another great Honduran dish featuring chicken (and a favorite of mine) is Tacos de Pollo.

Here the chicken is poached whole with garlic and onions, removed from the carcass, shredded, and mixed with a little tomato sauce, seasonings (commonly including cumin, consume de pollo, lots of salt, and achiote) and some sauted onions and peppers. This mixture is placed inside a homemade corn tortilla that has been colored and flavored with achiote paste. They are rolled and then deep fried. Typically these are served three to a plate with a topping of freshly shredded cabbage and lots of hot sauce.

Similar, but with a twist, are Honduran enchiladas.

These begin with fried corn tortillas enriched with achiote paste. They provide a base on which a mixture of ground beef cooked with spices, onions, and peppers and potatoes is layered. On top of this comes freshly shredded cabbage and a slice of fresh tomato. Sometimes a tomato sauce is spooned on top, sometimes just a dash of hot sauce. Radically different from enchiladas in the States, and (in my opinion) even better!

The other most common Honduran plate is called Plato Tipico (typical plate) and consists of homemade corn tortillas (made by mixing Maseca with water to create a dough, preparing balls of the dough to be flattened in a tortillera and then cooked on a hot comal), refried beans (red or black beans slowly cooked with garlic cloves, mashed, and then fried in plenty of shortening), fresh sliced avocado, and often fried sweet plantains. Garnished with crema (a classic Latin cream that is somewhere between cream cheese and sour cream) and hot sauce, plato tipico is so, so good. I brought a tortillera and comal home with me to attempt to recreate this goodness. After a few trials, I'll be sure to post recipes here.

So, that's a bit about Honduran food! Stay tuned for more reviews and recipes now that I'm back in New York!!

Bon Appetit!

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