Ruthies Garifuna Cuisine
On the Honduran Island of Roatan
Directions... with a Machete
It wasn't quite 11:00 yet and there had just been a huge downpour. Things were pretty quiet as if the whole village was still asleep. But we saw a couple people sitting under the shady palapa near the "Ruthies" sign, so we approached with crossed fingers.
No one exactly jumped up to greet us. But one of the women pointed to the back deck, so we helped ourselves to a stack of chairs and found a table with a view. That's a little silly to say, since there were no "view-less" tables.
Don and Jorge took a seat and I just had to roam for a bit. I took this photo from the end of the the deck, near an open window which opened up to the tiny kitchen. It already felt like we'd intruded a bit, so I forced myself not to stick my head in to see what was going on.
The water was calm after the morning rain. I wondered about the narrow "kayuko" tied to the side of the covered dock. Who used that boat? Where did they go once they got in the boat?
Home From School
Directly below us, I heard the voices of 2 little boys speaking Garifuna. Since children on the island either go to school in the morning or afternoon, I guessed these kids were done with school for the day. I have some fun memories of walking home from school when I was a child, but I never got to wade through waters of the Caribbean!
There were no menus, but Ruthie told us what she could serve that day. Yellowtail was the catch of the day and she could make "Machuca". I had heard about that Garifuna soup made with coconut milk and fish. I was game. As Jorge told us stories of growing up on the island, (long before developers and tourists) we could hear noises coming from the little kitchen window. It was an almost comical slapping-thunking sound that came from that small room. "She's pounding your plantains for your soup." Jorge laughed.
Served with a Smile!
We enjoyed every minute of our long wait for our meal. Ruthie had done all the work herself in that tiny kitchen. We finally got a big smile out of her when we mentioned seeing her name on the internet. "You're famous!" We announced. Not too famous, because I keep trying to find that piece of info I read weeks ago about her restaurant and I can't find it! But she seemed pleased to know we'd heard of her.
Fish with a Smile
Actually Don's smile, could be seen as an expression of panic. But his past business trips to Japan have prepared him for things much scarier looking than this fish. Maybe that fish is smiling on the plate... or he should be, because the plate decoration makes him look like he has legs... which is funny. Don did a good job with his fish and gave Ruthie lots of praise.
Machuca with Kingfish
Okay, this photo display hardly looks appetizing, but I loved every bit about this meal, starting with the retro flowered china. Don shared his rice and fried plantain, which was served in a Tupperware style container. I spooned chunks of plantain mash and squeezes of lime into my funny looking soup. Then I was treated to a smooth and flavorful slurp of sweet coconut milk broth. The kingfish was fresh and melt-in-you-mouth yummy. And I'm not a huge fish lover!
Coming to Life
After finishing and lingering, Ruthie placed a paper napkin on our table with $25. written in marker. Who knows if that's what locals are charged. But we got plenty for that price and she messed up her kitchen just for us. I asked her how to say "Thank you" in Garifuna. I can't remember what it was, but I she laughed when I tried to repeat it to her. We headed out to the street and stopped to chat with the men who had just started up a game of dominoes. "Who's winning!" I asked. Which is a really dumb question since they hadn't started. But the man in the white shirt with stripes, was more than happy to announce that he was the winner!
afternoon personality just kicking in! I would love to visit Ruthie's in the evening when locals might be filling up the tables. But no complaints. I loved our quiet little visit, with lots of time to enjoy!
Honduras is number 34 out of my goal of 50 countries in one year! Luckily I just have to eat the food, not visit the country! 1 bonus point for being on track with my goal!
New Friend to Blog
My point system for rating dining adventures clearly makes no sense. I give bonus points for bringing a new person to the blog...but I can't remember how many I generally give. I might give more points if I had a hard time convincing a friend to come on an adventure...or I might give an extra point if a friend came from out of town. But how about a new twist? Let's consider how Cheryl and I even became friends.
Our dear mothers were roommates for a few years at a Silverado Senior Living. Alzheimer's isn't something I usually bring into my dining blog, but I'm always looking for positive ways to look at this sad disease. And I think I'm going to give this dining adventure 5 bonus points for the positive thought that Alzheimer's brought our mother's together...and our mother's brought us together as friends...and here we are together, outside of a Honduran restaurant!
A People Encounter in Spanish
I always attempt to make a food outing more enjoyable by meeting people. However, it's difficult when I don't speak the same language!
Our server Jessica (who is from Honduras) spoke only a little English, so Don and Cheryl's husband, Bob did most of the talking. In fact I'm not really sure what Bob and Jessica were talking about much of the time. But I do know by the time we were ready to leave, Jessica and I were exchanging email addresses and I promised her I would start learning Spanish.
5 Bonus Points for Jessica's good humor and patience with us!
Different than Mexican Dining
There are numerous countries on my list that serve some kind of Latin American food. So I have to try hard to find things that make this experience different. 2 bonus points for Honduran beer! And 2 bonus points for the complimentary cheese topped bean dip (heated in crock) with chips (served in something besides a plastic wicker basket)! No salsa at this restaurant.
This is just one of many dishes we ordered to share! These are Chancletas Hondurenas! (Pear squash stuffed with cheese) It came with rice, beans, salad and plantain. These moist, floppy, cheesy treats were a nice balance with the Lomito de Res Asado (grilled beef plate) that we also ordered. But I especially loved the Baleadas! These are similar to quesadillas, but softer and more gooey...in a good way! We tried the avocado filled (the best) and one with scrambled egg, cheese and avocado. Portions were huge and we left full. 5 Points for real Honduran food!
No cropping on this photo, so you can see the movement of folks around us. For lunch time, this was a busy place on Bellaire Blvd., east of US-59. 3 bonus points for a nice energy in the cafe. We were surrounded by the Spanish language. There were families with children and workmen and even an old woman in a shawl who looked like she had just arrived from Honduras. The bar looked pretty flashy for such a small place, and I'm sure it was jammed a few hours later when karaoke began.
...there was plenty to look at around the cafe. There were about 5 TVs playing soccer matches and cartoons. (luckily no sound, because we were hollering a bit over the music already) And there were 3 big murals on the wall. I do like to see a flag or a photo or something that tells me about the country. So I have to give 2 bonus points for the Mayan Mural!
Fun experience at Honduras Maya! TOTAL of 25 POINTS!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.