Friday, February 18, 2011

When in Rome, eat the beans.

There's a scene in one of the Indiana Jones movies where he and his urban princess girlfriend experience a twist of fate and are invited to dine with a tribe of previously hostile indigenous folk.  It turns into a sticky affair rather quickly because the urban princess is completely disgusted by the fare on offer, and Indy knows that she is going to offend their hosts irreparably, possibly costing them their lives.

At my workplace I have already learned about one previous volunteer who refused to eat typical Honduran food.  It helped to mark her as an outcast immediately, and it's still had a lasting impression.  When I gratefully lap up every last morsel on my plate of their delicious fried starches, beans, tortillas, chicken or carne asada...they remark.  "Canadians don't usually eat beans do they?" 

Well, we don't eat them everyday, but I like the way they are prepared here, i.e. not out of a can, but fresh. Food is my good friend, with the exception of fish eyes and organ meat (right Steph?).  So it's no hardship eating whatever is put infront of me, and when I'm at home, I try to make sure I include a salad in my meals to make up for the general lack of veggies in typical Honduran food.

Part in parcel to this conversation about Canadians eating (or not) beans, is the classic question that stumps Canadians  from across the nation whenever we travel, "So, what's a typical Canadian dish?"  Uhhhh....well, that's kind of complicated isn't it?  I've resorted to the 1950's farmers' answer, "Potatoes, meat, one veggy for supper.  Eggs, bacon, toast and OJ for breakfast."  However, in reality, Canadian food is so varied, and so influenced by all our different populations that it's damn hard to come up one satisfactory answer. It's like that CBC competition that asked for the Canadian version of "As American as apple pie." and the winner was something like, "As Canadian as possible, given the current circumstances."  It makes it very clear that even in remote little northern towns like Dawson Creek, Canadians can and usually do, enjoy a lot of variety in our diets. 

The photos below document a recent dinner I enjoyed with my neighbours.  A good old-fashioned BBQ, with beef, pork sausage, platano, beans, tortillas, and a little bit of salad, all washed down with banana flavoured pop.  Hondurans eat bananas in all forms here.  Fried green bananas, fried yellow starchy bananas (platanos), raw little sweet bananas, raw bigger sweet bananas...the possiblities are endless.  It usually includes a lot of sour-cream-like-substance that they call butter.  Canadian-style butter, I have yet to find.
Miriam, my neighbour and best buddy here, preparing the BBQ for sausages (chorrizos) and steak (carne asada).  Old fashioned charcoal, in a brick oven. 

Fanning the flames, literally.  Starting the fire reminded me a bit of winter survival in Dawson Creek, but our needs were a little less dire here.  Kindling, cooking oil, and spoonfuls of sugar to get things started.  We could have burned the plastic bag the charcoal came in too, but I objected on grounds of vapourized carcinogens.

Fried platano (like banana only starchier), and beans.  When I asked to be taught how to make beans, they looked at me as if I must  be daft.  How could a woman of 31 years not know how to make frijoles?

Platano close-up.  My new favourite food.  Add sour-cream-like substance (they call it butter), and salt and...yummmmmmy! I made some platano negros (also known as burned them)...but Miriam insisted that I had only "smoked" them, so actually they should be worth more because all things smoked are more expensive in the stores (like fish for example).

Final steps,including throwing on a few tortillas to toast them before our big feast.


1 comment:

  1. Gaetane,
    I'm really enjoying your blog. It is so good to read all about your adventures and I absolutely love your top ten.I'm laughing to myself as I picture the run down busses with flat screens and loaded with people donning mullets.