Culture Through Cuisine: Honduras
In Louisiana, the key to someone’s heart is right through their belly! Cuisine is a huge factor in what makes Louisiana, well, Louisiana! Tasting cuisines from other countries gives you a little taste of their history and lets you become one with another culture. We at International Programs know that unfortunately not everyone gets a chance to travel the world and taste the cuisines that make a country unique. So, we are reaching out to international students and faculty at LSU in hopes of learning about cuisine unique to their home country and spread culture through cuisine without actually having to leave the United States!
Ixzel Lagos is a graduate assistant from Honduras studying Human Resources Development. Due to the lengthy economic and social relationship between Honduras and Louisiana, it is no surprise that there are many similarities between dishes. She has countless dishes that she misses from her home country. Her favorite is tamales! The best thing about tamales is that they are great any time if the day! They are very filling which makes them perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
In Honduras, tamales are a big tradition during the Christmas season, especially Christmas Eve. They are found at most places selling street food throughout December. Ixzel says that tamales are common as a gift exchange during the holiday. Companies will give them to their employees as a sign of appreciation for their work during the year. Some families even exchange tamales instead of presents! It’s a time where the majority of people in Honduras do not focus on gift giving but instead they focus on spending time with their loved ones with a satisfied stomach! IP sat down with her to find out more about these dishes and how her experience has been with Louisiana cuisine!
International Programs (IP): Do you believe that exploring a culture's cuisine is
an important part of cultural integration?
Ixzel Lagos (IL): Yes, cuisine is a main way to understand cultural history by ingredients and eating habits. Ingredient preferences reflect on the people themselves.
IP: What do you believe is most important about experiencing cuisine from other cultures?
IL: It’s a way of being cosmopolitan. You can keep your personal eating habits, learn others' habits and better understand people.
IP: Are there any dishes specific to your home country?
IL: Yes, street food is very common in Honduras. Basically vendors sell food to the public in streets, parks, plazas, etc. that is ready-to-eat. For the most part, it involves tasty fried food. Baleadas are one of the most popular street foods in Honduras. It is a folded flour tortilla usually filled with refried beans, scrambled eggs and queso or mantequilla (which is similar to sour cream). Sometimes they are filled with avocado or ground beef. Pupusas are another popular street food made with corn dough. They are fried and can be filled with refried beans and quesillo (which is similar to mozzarella cheese) or they can be filled with ground pork and other mixed ingredients.
IP: Which dish do you miss most from your home country? Can you describe it?
IL: I miss just the most typical dish there. It consists of beans, sausage, eggs, avocado, cheese, corn tortillas and plantains. I remember it ever since I was little.
IP: Which dish of Louisiana cuisine do you love the most? How does it compare to your favorite dish of your home country?
IL: Jambalaya! It seems to have a Spanish influence. It’s similar to a dish back home called arroz con pollo. It’s pretty much the same thing just a different name.
IP: Are portion sizes in Louisiana comparable to those in your country?
IL: Portion sizes are way bigger here.
IP: Healthy foods are becoming more of a trend in the U.S. Is that also the case in your home country?
IL: Yes, it has been happening slow and gradually. They are trying to improve labeling and making things more organic, more so in the cities than the countryside.
For many people, cuisine is connected to a sense of home and comfort. If you’re eating something you’d normally eat in your home country, you can feel better adapted to your new surroundings. The United States is generally associated with burgers, fries and lots of fatty foods. IP wants prospective international students who choose to come to LSU to know that this is false. Yes, there are burgers and fries, but, the great city of Baton Rouge has amazing cuisines from all around the world that will make you feel right at home! If you can’t find it in Baton Rouge, New Orleans is a short trip away with a multitude of other options. IP wants to help keep you connected to your culture through cuisine, your belly nice and full, and most importantly make LSU feel like your home away from home!