Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil


June 13th, 2013 | Posted by Brianna in Food | Honduras | The Places We've Been

At the Baleada StandWe’ve wasted no time integrating baleadas into our hands-on Honduran experience this month. Baleadas (prounounced ball-ay-ah-das) are a favorite food throughout the country made with a thick, flour tortilla folded over a filling of mashed (refried) beans, cheese crumbles, and cream. While they sound relatively simple, the snack isn’t readily available in other Latin American countries. In fact, we haven’t even seen good flour tortillas since we left Baja Sur in January, but here in La Ceiba, it seems like baleadas can be purchased on nearly every block from street stands outside of the grocery store to chain restaurants in the food court at the mall. Depending on the size of the establishment, a variety of different additional ingredients like avocado, eggs, chorizo and more are often available. It’s important to note that these are not burritos or tacos or sandwiches or quesadillas. They’re folded, not wrapped, heated, not grilled, and made with a thick tortilla, not a thin one. They are delicious and special (or as this blogger writes, “by far the greatest thing Honduras has ever invented”).

Stories of the origination of baleadas and their name vary, but most of them fit into one of two general themes, both based around the fact that the Spanish word for bullets is “balas”. The first group of stories credits a previous snack made without mashing the beans for the name, saying that either the shape of the tortilla wrapped around the fillings or the individual beans shooting out the other end when a bite was taken resembled bullets. The second group tell a tale of an old woman who was known for selling the dish until one day she was shot and killed. From them on, as the stories go, rather than a person saying they were headed to the restaurant, they would offer that they were headed to the baleada, to the shot woman or place of bullets. I accept them both, a mixture of logical description and romanticized tragedy.

We tried our first baleadas last weekend on the way to the grocery store at one of the two stands set up in the median of the main thoroughfare. Ordering sencillas (simples – made with the basic beans, cheese, and cream) for a typical street price of 10 lempiras ($.50 USD) each, we took a seat at the adjacent tables and quickly devoured our treats when the woman at the helm delivered them to us a few minutes later. While we sat, we watched passersby and the activities near the grill instead of the t.v. affixed to an upper corner of the tent. After making our baleadas, the woman cooking started on a new batch of tortillas, beginning with balls of dough that she patted flat and stretched wide between her rapidly moving hands. The next day, when we hit the mall for some air conditioning during a hottest-part-of-the-day power outage, we found ourselves at the food court, purchasing another delicious snack, this time specialty baleadas with avocado added. Here, they were twice as big and only a bit more expensive at 18 lempiras ($.90 USD), but that’s to be expected when the competition is Popeye’s Chicken. At one joint in the food court, the beans are ditched altogether to make a similar, but separate dish called a “gringa”, a thick tortilla filled only with queso. And here I was always calling that a cheesy…

At the Baleada Stand

Our First Baleadas

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