One of the pleasures of traveling is to taste and savor different foods. Every country has is own unique foods. Although they may be similar in nearby countries, each country has its own special flavors. As a general rule, throughout Central America, you will find that beans and corn, usually in the form of tortillas are the main staple. But its not only the ingredients, but the way you mix them that distinguishes foods between countries.
If you ask about Honduras typical foods, you will inevitable come up with the “baleada”. So just what is a baleada, and what makes it so special? Although native to the north coast of Honduras, you can find baleadas throughout Honduras. A baleada is a wheat flower tortilla, usually oversized, which has a dab of fried beans in it. To be a true baleada, the beans must be red beans, not black beans. Hondurans will die for their red beans, and do not like the black beans. (To me, they taste pretty much the same, but to each his own…)
A true baleada must have at least, a few crumbs of dry cheese added to it before wrapping it. Notice that a Baleada is usually not rolled up as a taco, but rather folded in half. Another usual ingredient in the baleada is cream. Fresh dairy cream adds a great flavor to your baleada. The above of course is for a regular, basic peasants baleada. But they can actually become quite a bit more sophisticated by adding different ingredients.
The most common extra ingredients to the Baleada, the most Honduran typical foods you will find, is avocado and eggs. They can come together, or not. Of course, the more you add to the baleada, the more expensive it gets…
Some people add chicken, beef or pork to their baleadas. This of course makes them a complete meal. Still others, prefer “Chorizo” a local sausage which mixes well with eggs in a baleada.
Baleadas are a basic meal, and do not need much preparation. They are the ideal street stall food. The street vendor ladies that serve them up can bring ready made the tortillas, a pot of beans, a pan with cream and some dry cheese. All they need to put them together is a small table top! This means that you can get baleadas on the streetsides of just about any city or town in Honduras! Most especially on the north coast.
Some of the most famous baleadas in Honduras are those served on the old railroad tracks in downtown La Ceiba. It is a tradition that after a night of partying at the different clubs in La Ceiba, locals stop by at the stands along the old railroad tracks. There they enjoy a couple of baleadas before heading on home. Having something in the belly always helped reduce the threat of a serious hangover!
Baleada: What Does that Mean?
The name has an unlikely meaning. La Baleada means the “the shot one”. According to some people, the name dates back to the 1960’s. The baleada did not have that name back in those days. It turns out that one day there was a gun fight in the streets. One of the ladies that made the best bean tortillas was shot and wounded by accident. From then on, when the patrons wanted a good tortilla with beans, they went to to “la baleada” the lady that took the shot. Everyone knew she served up the best meals. With time, the nickname for the lady was passed on to her wheat flower tortillas with beans and cheese that she prepared. Thus, the most popular of Honduran typical foods got its name!
Another very typical food in Honduras is Casabe. This is a combination between a tortilla and a cracker. It is made from Yuca a tubercular root that is similar to potatoes. It is typical of the Caribbean and was brought to Honduras by the Garifuna people. To produce Casabe, they first make flour and then they cook on a griddle. The result is large round cracker like product that is ideal for dips, or simply as a cracker.