Mealtimes in the Slattery house can be rather bland. Most dinners consist of one of four items—cheeseburgers, chicken, stroganoff, and spaghetti. It isn’t that I don’t have other recipes, but I’ve learned food with “weeds,” creams, and fancy presentations don’t get eaten. (My brief obsession with dill weed early in my marriage probably didn’t help. Nor my tendency to experiment.)
It’s funny how a short stint in another country can change your perspective and eating habits.
Last summer, we three burger-eaters joined eighteen others on a mission trip to El Salvador. A place that serves homemade cheese, rice pudding, and … iguana.
Would it surprise you to know I packed granola and peanut butter? Or that our family wasn’t the first in line to try the roasted iguana?
But we did try quite a few traditional foods, like papusas and fish cooked whole, eyeballs and all. That one didn’t bother me. I didn’t have to eat the eyeballs, after all. But it bothered one of our members tremendously. I don’t think she ate it. In fact, if memory serves, she politely excused herself during that meal—probably to hunt down my granola, which I’d left in the hotel.
The rest of us gathered in an orphanage courtyard, drinking soda, eating rice and homemade tortillas, not knowing the orphans ate broth filled with more chicken skin than meat but a room away. Because we were their guests, and they wanted to give us their best.
Before we left we tried to pay for our meal, but the orphanage “parents” shook their heads. They said the meal hadn’t cost them anything. Everything had been donated. Then they went on to tell us how each day, they trusted God to provide and each day they receive exactly what they need.
My husband asked them how much it cost to fund their orphanage and they said $3,000 per month. That’s a lot of money to wait in faith for, especially when you have so many young mouths to feed. (Consider the average monthly income in El Salvador is around $400.)
Try the recipe below. When you eat your home-made Papusas, think about my friends in El Salvador and the others like them and say a prayer on their behalf.
- 2 C mesa harina (traditional flour, although I imagine you can substitute 1 C flour and 1 C cornmeal.)
- 1 C warm water
- A bit of olive oil, fat, butter, or lard (If using fat, it might be best to use fat from whatever meat you plan to fill your papusas with
- 1 C filling of your choice
- Meat mixture (get creative)
- Refried beans mixed with cheese
- Black beans, with or without cheese
- Cheese (again, get creative. Use goat chees, mozzarella, feta …)
- Shredded pork and cheese
Mix the flour mixture and roll it into balls the size of your fist, then pound them flat, leaving them an inch and a half thick. Place your filling in the center and close the dough around it so that it is a stuffed tortilla. Then fry in a greased or buttered frying pan.
Serve with salsa and sour cream. Yum!
Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband and daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the ACFW Journal, Internet Café Devotions, and Jewels of Encouragement. You can connect with her online at her devotional blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com or via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte