Everything you get here seems to have the same components—tortillas, cheese (in some form), and then either meat, beans, or eggs. We laugh when we go to a restaurant because we’ll ask what a few of the items are and get pretty much the same answer for all of them, lol. I’m beginning to learn the subtleties though. A pupusa is a tortilla that’s made with the meat and cheese inside it (same concept as ravioli I suppose). The enchiladas here are an open-faced fried tortilla with seasoned meet, sautéed onions-peppers-tomatoes, shredded cabbage and homemade salsa on top—incredibly hard to eat without dumping it in your lap. Baleadas are tortillas with beans and queso and/or sometimes eggs wrapped inside. Point being, there are some staple components to the cuisine here and you get them for every meal in a varied (if only slightly) order. Beans (cooked with onions or liquado in a blender), tortillas, the onion-pepper-tomato combination (either cooked down for a salsa, sautéd for a vegetable, or pickled with chilies for a picante hot sauce), rice, eggs, meat, and queso.
They do mix fruits and veggies in there from time to time. It seems pretty popular to throw whatever fruit you have lying around into a blender to make fresh juice. (I’m a fan of this habit.) We had watermelon juice yesterday and papaya juice—from the most giant papaya I’ve seen in my life (it was bigger than a 4 month old baby)—the day before. Beets, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and a veggie we don’t have in the States called patatste are some of the most popular vegetables. Greens really aren’t used much (besides cabbage), and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because they’re so much more work to clean well. There’s a reason a lot of PC people stay away from greens, especially if you weren’t the one that cleaned them yourself. One PCV has already gotten E. coli. : ) I don’t think it was much fun for him.
I got a lesson in Honduran cheese last night from my new host dad, so I thought I’d share it. There are five basic products made from milk here: cuajahda, queso, quesillo, mantequilla, and requesón. Mantequilla, which I always thought was butter, is more of a thick cream here—and people put it on everything. It’s a little bitter, I think from being unpasteurized. (“Betty bought a batch of bitter butter” popped into my head yesterday…) You buy it in a bag and squeeze it out onto your eggs, beans, fried plantains, what-have-you. Queso is a denser, drier, white cheese, something between parmesian and mozzarella. The quesillo I tried for the first time last night, and I’m in love! It’s like a slightly more flavorful mozzarella, with the same soft, liquidiness (kind of like fresh curds) and it just melts in your mouth. Mmm! Fabiola (my new host mom) made me tortillas with melted quesillo and scrabbled egg-tomato-onion-pepper last night for dinner. Delish! And then I got fresh quesillo as part of my breakfast this morning as well, lol. The cuajahda is something in between quesillo and queso, and has a bit more fat/cream in it. They use it to make rosquilla, which are like crunchy, cheese straw rings. Hondurans like to eat them with coffee. Apparently our town here makes some of the best rosquilla in the country. (The mayor presented us each with a bag of rosquilla when he welcomed us our first day, lol.) The requesón I truthfully can’t remember. When I re-figure that out, I’ll get back to you.
So there’s a little culinary lesson from Honduras. Hope you’re eating as well as I am.
Vaya con huevos!