Rachel Jill Papernick
About the Author
Rachel Jill Papernick served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, Central America, from 2007 to 2009, where her work focused on Ecotourism, Education, Small Business Development and Women’s groups.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Rachel attended Carnegie Mellon University, earning a degree in Creative Writing and French with a minor in Communication Design. Working primarily as a Graphic Designer since college, Rachel has lived in Maryland, Washington, D.C, Toulouse, France, Florida, Cabañas Copan, Honduras, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rachel is currently taking pictures, practicing yoga, and cooking up a storm in Southern Florida, USA.
Honduran Cuisine – A Cultural Cookbook
28 authentic recipes and stories transcribed from the women of rural Occidental Honduras—the humble masters of traditionally simple and delicious foods.
This cookbook’s intention is to not only offer an in depth look at the Honduran culture’s most traditional and scarcely documented recipes, but more so, to be an honest and natural account of the women who, through their daily preparations of these dishes, preserve and strengthen the country’s fundamental way of life.
You will find in these recipes that an impressive variety of foods are created using the same essential ingredients. The crops of the region are primarily corn and beans—these are the mortar and brick of the Honduran diet. Throughout the recipes there also exists slight variations on how to prepare “the basics,” or base ingredients, this is a reflection on each woman’s personalized take on what tradition has taught them. The inclusion of these variations is an attempt to keep the recipes as authentic as possible.
Lastly, the tools and appliances available for cooking vary from electric and gas stoves, to wood burning ones; there are modern electric blenders compared to ancient mortar stones and pestle; there are women who cook every day with firewood and matches, and those who use more modern means. The story of these women and the way in which they prepare food is the story of Honduras—where it has come from, and where, as a country, it is patiently going.
Cabañas Copan is a quaint and cheerful farming community in the mountainous Western corner of Honduras. A few kilometers from the Guatemalan border, this area is full of sweet smelling coffee farms and rich in the culture of the Mayan-Chorti—the descendents of the Native American Indians that once inhabited this fertile part of the earth. The mountains, waterfalls and lush landscape of the 100 yr-old municipality is home to the hard-working and humble Honduran farmers and their families. Full of generosity and the never-ending desire to tell a good chiste (joke), the townspeople of Cabañas are welcoming and willing to share their casa, customs, and above all else, a good meal with the unexpected passerby.
This cookbook was made possible by 26 incredible women who, through graceful sacrifice of self, put their children’s, husbands’, friends’ and strangers’ needs (and stomachs) far ahead of their own.
I would like to thank again the women of Cabañas who welcomed the gringuita into their homes and passed on to me their personal stories and undocumented recipes. Muchísimas gracias a: Elidas Sagastum, Alba Luz Guerra, Sandra Yamileth Ortiz Molina, Petronila López, Sonia Javier, Santos Pérez, Merlany Pérez, Edy Patricia Guerra, María Argelia Álvarez, Eva Lidia Solís, María Elvira Belis, Irma Yolanda Vasquez Salazar, Marta García, Elsa Yamileth Ulloa, María Alicia Robles, Elma Carolina Mayorga, Olfania Judith Mayorga, Delila del Carmen Solís, Celida Teresa Milla, Rosa Elena Arita, Lesbia Alexandra Madrid, Rosaría Elizabet Martínez, María Saray Pinto, Suyapa Nohemey Posadas, Lucia Rosa, Rosa Solórzano, Soila Bojorquez, Silvia García, Rosa Idalia Rodríguezy Catalina Ortiz, Maria Esmerlinda Javier, Lydia..
I arrived in Cabañas Copán on October 1st, 2007. It was high noon and the sun was strong. The greenness of the surrounding mountains was vivid. I breathed deeply and became acquainted with the aroma of the Honduran countryside—A mix of burning cedar and cattle. My chauffeur was a John Wayne-looking character with muddied cowboy boots, red dress shirt opened to the waist, fat buckle and belt, cigarette hanging off his lip and revolver protruding from his hip. He sang his lungs out to a scratchy cassette tape of Vincente Fernandez as he drove, his gold inlays glinting in the sun. The winding dirt road filled with clouds of dust as we tumbled toward a town and a people that I would eventually call mi vida (my life).
After three months of training, I felt ready to start my two-year service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in what was, at first, just another foreign place in the world. The idea of saving people, animals, even trees—dramatized itself in my head. But saving them from what? I couldn’t have told you. I didn’t know what was out there at the time. I was just being born into this new place, learning all of my human survival skills from scratch. To be a foreigner in any setting brings one back to the state of infancy. Every task becomes big and cumbersome. The grace or ease we earn as we enter into adulthood is out of reach. It is with awkward and outstretched arms that I grabbed onto new friends, words, skills, and tried to pull myself forward. I failed, fell, and found my way. I watched as my new self matured. It was often painful to my ego to hear or watch myself in this new setting. I became a separate version of the Me I knew. Strange and deeply satisfying was my assimilation and the moments when I embraced change. Learning, that different is no better or worse then that which is the same, it’s simply unknown. And with all unknowns, there is an equation, or in this case, a recipe, that helps it all make sense.
By recreating these recipes the cook is finding out in a fundamental, transitory way, what life is like for a woman living in rural Honduras. I know I felt this connection—As I dug my fingers into my ball of freshly ground corn flour—or when I walked into the house and my nose filled with the sweet smell of beans cooking on the stove—or when a little bit of cream on my pupusa made me say oooh. I smile at these sensory emotions that make me more like my dear friends, and I think if we only paid a bit more attention to how our distant neighbors were making their daily food, we might understand why inequalities still exist and how we might build compassion rather than practice indifference.
I hope these recipes and stories become a part of your life, as they have mine. I hope you can spend some time with them, let them become yours, adapt them to your tastes, and share with me what you have learned: email@example.com
Alejandrina Carrasco (Spanish)
Sharon Dilworth (English)
Diane Goodman (English)
Joyce & Laura Fisher
Lucy Mery Rangel
From this Author
Famous Recipe from Honduras: Homemade Corn TortillasMasa & Tortillas de maíz Elidas Sagastum’s smile and hardy laugh invites anyone who meets her to smile back, without hesitation. She is...
Simply Delicious Honduran Sponge CakeDoña Elvira is the most nimble of women. Over sixty years old and she still swings an axe, and carries large quantities of firewood to chop and cook...