Sopa de frijoles a la Thida
You might remember that Claudia, my ex-Spanish teacher, showed me how to make a sopa de frijoles (red bean soup). So I tried my hand at making my own with a “Thida twist”.
Of course, being a dietitian and all, I added a little more colour in the soup because the original recipe is all red and yellow/brown.
Green beans, ripe plantain, green bananas, tomatoes, fresh baby corn, onion, garlic, celery, green and orange peppers, yuca (I love this stuf!), chicken broth, especias, bay leafs, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Oh yeah…red beans (that’s the whole purpose of the soup).
Claudia made it with beef and it’s commonly made that way but I omitted that.
So I made my soup the easy way. You know…throw everything in a pot and let it simmer. I did however cook the red beans separately for a couple of hours and I added some of the cooking water to the soup to give it a darker colour.
I had the soup with a side of tortillas and cuajada, a salty cheese curd-type made locally. It was easy, nutritious and delicious!
It was super easy to make, not only because it was a soup, but also because I used local ingredients, which was not the case for the following cooking experience.
European Style Dinner in Honduras
Last weekend, I had my friends Ernenek and Lizzette at home for dinner. The goal was to make a European style dinner.
The following is the menu with the ingredients. I will also point out the ingredients that I had to buy either in Tegucigalpa, the capital, or Choluteca because I couldn’t find them in San Lorenzo.
- Parmesan Risotto: butter (Cholu), onion, garlic, Arborio rice (Tegu), white wine, chicken broth, fresh parmesan (Tegu), salt and pepper
- Fish with pesto and sun dried tomato, cooked in the oven: white fish fillets, pesto (Tegu), mayonnaise, sun dried tomato (Tegu), cayenne pepper flakes (Cholu), olive oil (Cholu), salt and pepper
- Ratatouille: onion, garlic, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, celery, tomato, red peppers, dry oregano flakes (Cholu), bay leaf
- Banana cake: flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, salt, bananas, egg, baking soda (which I couldn’t find in San Lorenzo so I couldn’t add it to the recipe)
- To drink: a nice Chianti red wine (Tegu)
Finding out that the “spinach” you bought wasn’t actually spinach – even though the label said it was. The taste reminded me of something I ate before but I couldn’t figure it out what it was. The leaves were thicker and had a bitter taste.
Opening a bottle of what you think is regular white wine – because the label said it was! – and hearing a “ppshhhh”, and realizing that it’s actually sparkling wine. We still used it for the Risotto.
Buying fish fillets and not knowing exactly what kind of fish it is – even though you asked the merchant but couldn’t understand her. Seeing the merchant taking her hands out of a bucket full of fish, taking your money, giving you change with her hands dripping of fish juice, giving you the fish and then putting her hands back in the bucket full of fish. If it’s any consolation the fish was really cheap: $3 for 2 lbs.
Realizing that you don’t actually have all the kitchen tools to prepare your meal (e.g. enough pots, cake mould, cheese grater). Using whatever tools you can find to do the job; juggling food from one container to another as you go along trying to cook your meal.
Using your brand new can opener to open a can of baking powder and seeing it break it your hands after 5 seconds; and then trying to use your old non-functioning can opener which doesn’t work because it’s already broken (duh!). Trying to pry open the can anyway with whatever you have handy while not slicing your fingers (I just needed a teaspoon! Come on!)
Opening a new plastic bag of cayenne pepper flakes; sprinkling the pepper on your fish; noticing afterwards that there are small bugs moving in the plastic bag. This leads to panic and a thorough inspection of the fish to make sure nothing is moving there. I threw away the rest of the bag.
You can imagine that at this point I was starting to have a panic attack. I was worrying that the meal was going to be a disaster.
The finished product was really surprising, in a good way! And a relief to be honest!
The fish was great – I’ll have to go back to the market and ask again what fish I got. The ratatouille was very tasty, although Liz didn’t actually like the spinach wannabe. The risotto was just perfect, which means you can actually make risotto with sparkling wine. The banana cake turned out not too bad either.
The most important thing is that no one got sick! Éxito! (Success!)
So you see folks! With a little bit of patience, resourcefulness and a sense of humour – and two friends who can provide on-the-spot therapy and encouragement – you too can make your own home-made meal. And you’ll probably have less trouble than I had!