Honduran Hoecakes

After noting (somewhat suggestively, I thought) that Mexico is shaped like an on-end cornucopia, one authority I consulted for a reasonable analysis of cultural diffusion with the U.S. degenerated into a diatribe against the North American Free Trade Agreement, but even without his analysis, perhaps even despite of, it’s safe even for a rube like me to say that the influences are profound, that of Mexico on the U.S. embracing such diverse areas as art and architecture, music and literature, not to mention food, a far more significant contribution than that our northern neighbor Canada, which as far as I can tell seems to be restricted to ice hockey and fried potatoes with gravy.

Tomes have been written about Mexican food in the U.S., but with the obvious exception of Texas the discussion of Mexican foods in the American South has just begun. In Mississippi, Delta tamales are certainly the most notable culinary import from south of the border, but another that you’ll find throughout the state if not most parts of the South while Mexican in name does not like the tamal have its origins in Old Mexico. Instead, what we know as Mexican cornbread is almost certainly though not verifiably a Tex-Mex recipe that has been around long enough to become a standard not only in our homes but also in supermarket delis, a certain sign of its broad appeal.

Though Southerners claim cornbread as our definitive staff of life, Mexico is the home of this staple, though certainly not as we know it now. While researching the history of Mexican cornbread (the U.S. version, whose origins are obscured in a cloud of “women’s magazine” articles and speculation), it was somewhat of a discovery to stumble upon our cornbread in Mexico, unsurprisingly called pan de maiz, which seems to be recent and largely at home in southern Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. One recipe I found on a Mexican website claims to have come by way of Maine and even employs buttermilk. While such things aren’t inconceivable, I suddenly felt as if the Culinary Improbability Drive had been activated, and I was on the verge of turning into an enormous jalapeno hushpuppy and plunging into a roiling intergalactic catfish pond. I felt much the same way about Malaysian grits.

Mexican cornbread has all sorts of atrocious variations, but the most rudimentary type employs corn, peppers and some sort of cheese. Extreme examples include any number of beans and meats, cacti, seeds and flowers, not to mention that California aberration with blue tofu. For my part, I’ve devised a recipe that is a departure from the customary pan of bread, one that is lighter and at least in spirit closer to the flatbreads more often served on Mexican tables. It reminds me of an early Southern cornmeal staple many consider the ancestor of the cornbread most often made for our tables. Make batter as you normally would for cornbread, adding only whole kernel corn, peppers and your choice of cheese in equal proportions. I prefer to use thin-walled mild peppers for the most part with a thinly-sliced jalapeno for kick. Drop batter by spoonfuls into a well-oiled skillet, brown on both sides and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a medium oven until done through. You want them crusty, good for toppings (salsa, guacamole, refried beans, etc.), serving them as you would a sope.

6 Replies to “Honduran Hoecakes”

  1. Are you actually “disabled”? Are you getting paid for a mental disability? All of your “research” on “mexican cornbread’ is absolutely TRASH. Before you try and offend and entire culture/country of people and how “atrocious” their food is, do some ACTUAL research or maybe talk to a MEXICAN about how we cook our food. Get your offensive mind out of the gutter.
    People, we DON’T cook cornbread like this in Mexico.

    1. Mr. Lopez, you misunderstand what I mean by “Mexican cornbread”. The bread I refer to as “Mexican cornbread” is a variation of American cornbread served in the Southern United States and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH AUTHENTIC MEXICAN CORNBREAD. I assure you I have an unlimited respect for the cuisines of Mexico as well as for the peoples of Mexico. This entire article, in fact, is very much a tongue-in-cheek comment on the lack of authenticity of most “Mexican” recipes in the United States. I have read Diana Kennedy’s splendid books on Mexican cuisine and on the basis of that profess to have a passing familiarity with what is authentic, but my knowledge is superficial. Please accept my apologies for the misunderstanding, and I welcome you to submit an article about Mexican cooking with a recipe and photo perhaps.

      1. Well, I don’t understand in what kind of writing you are or if we speak the same language, anyways, if you google, or get a dictionary, I am pretty sure we have the same definition, of the word atrocious, and I am not flattered with the meaning of it and how you used it to describe our variations of cornbread or “pan de maiz”.
        This is an ancient recipe, it started with the mayas, and then the aztecs, of course it has variations, just like in the USA, the food that people eats in California is not the same as Texas, we have differents ways of preparation, and all sort of ingredients, starting from corn selection.
        However, this post and your blog in general possess real vague information. POOR CONTENT.

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