In fifty days, I will be traveling out of the United States. Destination? Honduras! My fiance and I will be taking our honeymoon in his native country. It will be my first time outside of the country completely immersed in another place. As with any new experience, I feel both extremely excited and a bit nervous. Have you ever noticed how your preconceptions of a place are often drastically different, for better or worse? It is amazing how our minds can create certain images about a place, even though we have never been there before. It will be interesting to see how my preconceptions mentioned in this blog will either be proven, or disproved.
When I think of Honduras I see many things from what I have heard on my own and from what my fiance and his family have told me. I see the ocean, white sands, palm trees with coconuts, and tropical forests with vivid- colored parrots. But, I also see the poverty-laden cities; streets crowded with people walking; old cars passing by; and vendors selling fruit, breads, tortillas and various hand-made items. Carlos, my fiance, tells me that he remembers Honduras to be a place where mostly everyone is friendly and laid back. Of course, he also remembers having to always be on the watch, especially since he grew up in the city where anybody could pull out a knife or gun and demand money. His stories always surprise me having grown up in Litchfield where you can walk the streets at night and not (for the most part) have to worry about someone pulling out a weapon. Weekends for him were spent at the ocean or the lake with elaborate picnics (rice, beans, tortillas…the works!). Music and dancing are a big part of the Central American culture. He tells me that people play the perky, beat-driven music on the beach and just dance away in the sun. Sounds idyllic, yes? Get your own groove on with the 2001 Latin Billboard music awards CD (CD World LAT).
I’ve been lucky enough to taste some Honduran/Latin Cuisine already. Carlos is a fabulous cook as is his mom and sister. What I have found is that all Central American food shares common ingredients and even very similar dishes. Often, it just comes down to the way it is prepared. I have grown to love tostones (fried plantains), delicious seafood soup, vegetable soup with bananas and whole boiled eggs (sounds gross, but it actually tastes great), and of course rice, beans and tortillas with everything. Carlos’s mom makes delicious homemade tortillas that are thick and round, and perfect for filling with beans and Honduran cream cheese. One of my favorite desserts that his mother makes is Tres Leches Cake (Three Milks Cake). It is basically a plain, white cake which is then soaked and chilled in three kinds of milk, then finished off with some whipped cream. It’s perfect for warm weather since it’s served cold, and surprisingly, it’s not too sweet (although that probably depends on the recipe you use). Look below for a recipe for Tres Leches Cake.
I believe most of the cuisine in Honduras will be what I have tasted here with some different variations. To give Central American cooking a shot, check out Pan-Americans Complete Round-The-World Cookbook (641.5 WAL), (pg. 311 starts Central American cuisine). The recipe for Seafood Soup is similar to the one Carlos’s mom makes. Hot and Spicy Latin Dishes (641.638 DEW) is a fun recipe book because the author gives a little tidbit about the meal for each recipe. Try the chimicurri sauce (pg29-30) to add flavor to any meal.
Although Carlos is from Honduras, he hasn’t been back there for many years. We will be staying a short visit at his uncle’s beach house, but then venturing off on our own, either to the island of Roatan or the small town of Tela. OWL has helpful books about traveling to Central America: Fodors Central America 2003 and 2006 (917.28 FOD). They have information regarding lodging, dining, nightlife, currency, car rentals etc.
Heading off to a country where you don’t know the language, or like me, you just want to brush up on your skills? Make haste toward OWL’s expansive collections of language tools, including language learning audio CD’s with booklets and language dictionaries. You’ll be well on your way to at least knowing key phrases: “Donde esta el bano?” I used the Conversational Spanish CDs (CD Lang 460 PIM SPA). You can also download Spanish speaking tools from Overdrive downloadable books on the Library’s website. On the homepage click on the “download audiobooks” button, then login with your library card number and you are good to go, amigo.
In the Library’s foreign film section, be sure to check out one of my personal favorites , The Motorcycle Diaries (DVD Foreign MOT). It is a fabulous, free-spirited adventure film with famous Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal. The movie follows two friends, Ernesto and Alberto, as they set out across Central America on their bikes.
Another great film to see which relates both to Central American culture and food, is Like Water for Chocolate (DVD Foreign LIK). Your taste buds will be popping while watching all the delicious food Tita makes to try and seduce Pedro, her forbidden love.
Sin Nombre (DVD Foreign SIN) is a powerful, emotional story about a teenage girl from Honduras who decides to head North to America with her family. She eventually meets up with a young man from Mexico who is also crossing the border, and she sets off alone with him. It chronicles the immense struggles and dangers they face along the way.
Want to read something different? Check out Latin authors, Julia Alvarez and Luis Alberto Urrea. Tortilla Curtain, which chronicles the lives of immigrant workers in America, by T.C. Boyle was well done as well.
I know Honduras won’t be exactly how I picture it in my mind, but I am excited to visit another country and see how the people live and interact. Luckily, OWL has some great materials to prepare any traveler. Now, all I need to do is find my passport…
Tres Leches Cake
- Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can(12 ounces) evaporated milk
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Click on this link to see the directions for preparation
Sarai is the Publicity Coordinator/Library Assistant who is currently sipping Peppermint tea, dreaming about the Tres Leches Cake she may have this weekend when her future mother-in- law arrives.