Native to Brasil, cassava AKA casabe is Garifuna delicacy that you can get used to! Cassava or Casabe is made from “yucca” a root that is like the potato. It appears that the Portuguese spread the cassava throughout the World. They took it from their Brazilian colony to Africa. It also adapted well to the Caribbean and soon became an important staple and source of food for the locals. In Honduras, the Garifuna poeple introduced cassava. The Garifuna were vanished from the Island of Saint Vincent in the Grenadines. The Brits marooned The Garifuna in Roatan in 1797. Shortly after, they resettled along the Caribbean Coast of Honduras.
The Garifuna food relies on Cassava, or “Yuca” like they call in Spanish. This is an important ingredient that goes with most traditional seafood dishes that are part of their gastronomy. The Garifuna make a thick tortilla looking bread. They call it Casabe, and is like a cracker. Many local gourmet restaurants use it with their specialty ceviche dishes. The Casabe provides a different, more authentic culinary experience that regular crackers do. Others use it as chips for a dip.
To bake casabe, the Garifuna first take the outer skin off the root. Once clean, they grind the yuca and then press it through a strainer to produce a fine flower. Now, the yuca flower is ready to bake. Baking is done on a flat griddle. They distribute the flower on the griddle, and usually ends up being about the size of a large pizza crust. As it cooks, the cassava flower solidifies, creating a large, solid cracker style, pizza like crust. When cooked on one side, they flip it over to finish the cooking process.
The end product is Casabe, a large pizza style cracker. It is crispy and retains its crispness despite the local humidity that makes crackers go soggy in a heartbeat. it is now time to add a flavor to the casabe bread. Garlic butter is the most common flavor. Yet, many people add sweet flavors, such as chocolate. Because it mixes well with both salty and sweet flavors, Casabe is a popular snack in Honduras.
It is easy to find casabe throughout Honduras. You can find little bags with cracked casabe in convenience stores, and supermarkets. Many Hondurans that are traveling north to visit their family take casabe bread with them to the USA. Hondurans abroud cherish casabe.
The Casabe Tour in La Ceiba
Do you want to to arrange a tour to visit a Casabe factory? I suggest you contact Reservaciones La Ceiba. They are a nonprofit tour operation that promotes community tourism. They have a close relationship with APROCASABE, a local cooperative of Garifuna ladies that bake casabe. The factory is in the town of La Union, close to where you take the train into the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge.
The tour offers a window not only to Casabe production, but also to life in a rural community in Honduras’ Caribbean Coast. You will of course, have an opportunity to buy some casabe to take home. There are also many photo opportunities here. Best of all, you will have been a responsible traveler who has helped the community you visited!