Image courtesy of Nuestro Stories.
Have you ever had Baleadas? The signature dish of Honduras? You know, the mouth-watering dish made of wheat flour tortillas, cooked on a skillet, and packed with beans, cheese, and Honduran sour cream?
Well, not only do Baleadas satisfy any appetite, but they also happen to have the wildest, and perhaps most dangerous, origin story you’ve probably ever heard. It involves bullets.
There is actually a debate about who created the Baleada, but here’s what we know: it was invented by a woman from La Ceiba in Northern Honduras, an area once home to the world’s largest banana-growing empire called the Standard Fruit Co. The company was run by a powerful Italian family, the Vacarro, generally credited for introducing wheat flour as a core ingredient of the Baleada.
So far, so good. But here’s where our origin story gets a bit fuzzy.
One of the craziest urban food legends in the world is that the term “Baleada” is used to refer to a young woman who was shot and either injured or killed at a street stall where she served her signature dish to customers. Seriously.
In fact, “Baleada” literally translates to “a woman who got shot.” The legend says that after she was shot, neighbors nicknamed the dish and her business “La Baleada.”
Then there’s the competing, totally bloodless, yet powerful, origin story that the Baleada was invented by a young single mom named Doña Tere, also from La Ceiba, in the 1960s.
When Doña Tere was asked why the dish she claims to have created had such a tragic sounding name, she said the Baleada is just a food metaphor. Doña Tere (who is still alive and well) explains: “The beans are the bullets, the grated cheese is the powder, and the tortilla is the cartridge.”
So there you have it. No matter which tale you believe, the Baleada, the dish, is still a delicious, simple, and satisfying part of Latin cuisine … with no less than two wild origin stories. A testament to the resilience of our vibrant Latino origins.
But don’t take our word for it. Enjoy a Baleada recipe that you can build off of and make your own.
Olivia Monahan Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.
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