April 24, 2013

No rice with potatoes!

Honduran food
Rice and potatoes?

"You're ordering rice and potatoes?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Because you just don't. You don't eat rice with potatoes. That's two starches. It's not allowed!"

"Whatever. It's good. You should try it."

Honduran pastelito
Honduran chicken pastelito
Actually, I have tried it. There is no way around it. Yummy pastelitos (fried meat pies) often come with rice and potatoes inside. So do many tamales, including the ones I make.

I don't know about the rest of Honduras, but arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) served with ensalada de papas (potato salad) is the most common party food around this part of the country. It's inexpensive (not much pollo in that rice!), relatively easy to make in vast quantities to serve a crowd, and very filling, especially when served with two slices of plain white Bimbo bread (think Wonder bread). Both dishes are good. I just wish they weren't served together. I am a bread snob, though, and have to pass on the Bimbo bread.

"What is it with gringos and eating rice with potatoes?"

"Okay, I was taught that you should eat a meat, a veggie, a starch (though probably not so much anymore with all the no-carb people), and maybe a salad – extra veggies are okay, but never two starches. You don't eat rice with potatoes, or potatoes with pasta, or pasta with rice. If the soup has potatoes in it, you don't put rice in it. If it has rice, you don't put potatoes. If it has noodles, you don't put rice or potatoes. Got it? That's just the way it is. It's a law. The law of gringo eating."

Where's the bastimento?

Conversely, my Catracho wants his bastimento. As an example, he said that he could have a plate of spaghetti with a side of rice and would still need a bastimento to go with it.

guineos (bananas) and yuca - bastimentos
Guineos and yuca
'Bastimento' can basically be described as something starchy to fill you up. In La Ceiba, that is generally boiled guineos (bananas), boiled or fried platanos (plantains) or yuca (a potato-like root vegetable), or tortillas, either corn or flour, most often corn. Bread will serve in a pinch. Rice doesn't count as a bastimento, neither do potatoes, even though they are starchy and will fill you up.

But wait! After doing some fact checking with El Jefe, it turns out that french fries are a bastimento, but potato salad is not. Other types of potatoes may be allowed as a substitute, but never potato salad. Never. It's not a bastimento for some unfathomable reason. Apparently adding mayo to potatoes removes it's bastimento status.

"I have to look at my plate and convince myself that mashed potatoes or baked potato is a bastimento. Then I am satisfied that I have a complete meal."

I found out that potato salad doesn't count one time when we had the whole family over. We made pinchos (both chicken and beef kabobs with chiles and onions). I had about 10 pounds each of beef, chicken, potato salad and cole slaw. We started with about 6 dozen deviled egg halves and a pot of homemade bean, cheese, and chorizo anafre (bean and sausage dip) with tortilla chips and ended with two different desserts. My meal was found lacking because there was no bastimento. :-{

Honduran corn tortillas
Corn tortillas - si! bastimento
I learned my lesson. The next time, I asked my sister-in-law if she could make the tortillas. I can make them, but just couldn't imagine the time it would take to make a mountain of tortillas with all the other cooking I was doing. So she kindly brought about 50 tortillas. My mother-in-law ate two and I sent all the rest of the tortillas home with everyone else. Go figure.

And the Catracho rule? No guineos with tortillas! I once suggested that we have fried tajadas with our baleadas. The looks I got from him and Arexy! You would have thought I suggested we fry up one of the chihuahuas for lunch.

"You can't eat platanos with tortillas. It's the law."

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