Monday, December 29, 2014

La Canasta Basica

One of the best gifts that many families can get during the holidays is what's called a "Canasta basica" or a "basic basket."  This consists of basic staples such as rice, beans, maseca (corn flour for tortillas), coffee, sugar, vegetable shortening or oil, and soap.  Some might have a different combination with spaghetti or wheat flour, etc.  Since the holidays are a time of increased costs for many families, this gift basket can be just the boost they need.  I remember pitching in with a friend and putting together a big one for my future mother in law once (now we just buy her the supplies and forgo the basket).  The plastic tub part of the basket is actually very useful for many families as they are truly multipurpose--soaking and washing clothes,  soaking whole corn to make tortilla masa, holding clean dishes, etc.  My school used to give a canasta basica to all of the cleaning staff at our Christmas and mothers day assemblies which I thought was sweet (until I got a little cynical about it and thought the best gift would be paying them enough to not need a canasta basica, but that's another story).  I saw this nicely packaged version at the supermarket this week--already assembled for about $18 and wanted to share rhis tradition.

Note: the phrase "canasta basica" or "granos basicos" is also used in Honduras to refer to the price of basic goods that everyone eats and uses and is also used to gauge the national economy.

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