Food You Can Eat: Baleadas (Honduran Soft Tacos)

Um, I don't know. There are lots of famous people from Queens. Archie Bunker. The Ramones. Geraldine Ferraro. Donald Trump. And they have baleadas restaurants.

This, I think, is the Honduran National Fútbol Team. I know less about Central American soccer than I do about Republican QAnon local pols from red states, and that's saying something.

Omnivore that I am, I sometimes wish that I lived in Queens. I mean, I could live anywhere, work-from-home as I have been for a dozen years, but one of the reasons why we chose this roost was that it offered Better Half easier access to his suburban job in Westchester, and then access to the George Washington Bridge when he got a job in New Jersey. Plus, I was very reluctant to leave Manhattan, parvenu that I am.

Nonetheless, when we had the car, every so often we’d have occasion to visit Queens, a vast borough with something like 300 micro-neighborhoods, and we once stumbled across this hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was in a small Honduran community. That’s the best thing about New York. You can travel the world without a passport and the subway currently only costs $2.75, and lots of people don’t even pay that, they just hop the turnstiles or are let through gates that are left open for them by thoughtful exiting passengers. I wish I could remember where this was, but Queens has these addresses that makes sense only to them, but to no one else. So the address of this restaurant, and I’m totally making this up, might have been 38-05 27th Avenue, which meant it was on 27th Avenue near 38th Street or Road. It’s a legacy of when Queens was developed seemingly overnight from a series of villages and farms into a suburban community. It’s why if you know someone who lives in Queens, and want to send them a letter, you would address it to “Flushing, NY” or “Forest Hills, NY,” but if you wrote to me you would write, “New York, NY.”

At this Honduran restaurant I had my first exposure to two things: the Honduran flag, and baleadas. The flag was interesting enough, and the baleadas were delicious. And I think I was charged like $4. It was enormous and we sat at a rickety table watching soccer, which, like Queens mailing addresses, I will only partially ever understand. Here’s a very simple recipe from foreignfork.com. The one I had had a little smoked sausage in it, which I recommend adding. This recipe serves 4, more or less. Less, in my case.

4 homemade flour tortillas or buy the ready to cook store bought ones

1 cup refried beans

1/2 cup cotija cheese*

1/2 cup sour cream

*Cotija is actually a town in Mexico, nowhere near Honduras, so what makes this Honduran I don’t know. Maybe it’s the addition of the sour cream. Cotija is kind of like feta, so a mixture of feta and sour cream is a little much. I recommend adding some smoked sausage, like what I had.

Use a spoon to spread ¼ cup refried beans onto one half of the tortilla.

Sprinkle ⅛ cup cotija cheese on top and add some dollops of sour cream.

Add any additional toppings, then fold the tortilla in half. Enjoy!

[Gringo Mattie adds: The last time I made these at home I used feta cheese, German smoked sausage, and, gasp, pita pockets. I don’t know which would be considered worse nowadays, my blaspheming or my “cultural appropriating.”]

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8 Comments

    • We don’t even have a Target nearby! We have one that’s somewhat nearby but it’s in this “Escape from New York”-like city- and state-subsidized…mall, I guess. People have…ucch. I’ll stick with feta. I didn’t really notice a difference between the feta I had (it was a little more sour maybe) and the traditional baleada I believe I was served at the Honduran restaurant.

      Poor Better Half. I forget what we were even doing in Queens that time. There was a Sears over the county line in Nassau, and that was its own horror show, so maybe we were en route to that to get the car serviced. Or maybe we were headed to Sayville to catch the ferry to Fire Island. Who knows. It’s true, life is about the journey, not the destination.

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