I am here up late, watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (on Food Network) where Guy Fieri is visiting a Belizean establishment in Chicago. I’ve been to Belize quite a few times but I can’t say I have sampled the whole range of cuisines. Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America, so while there are clear similarities in some of the foods to the rest of the West Indies, grounded in the history of the people, from Africa, and the tropical foods and provisions available, there are some influences that set Belize apart from its Eastern Caribbean neighbours (far neighbours, I admit).
Belize has many foods that would be at home in Mexico for example – in Belize City you can find so many little establishments selling corn tortilla and taco like foods, tamales, as staples in Belizean street food.
The photo at the top is of saltbutes which are fried corn rounds that puff up when fried, topped with meats, beans, salsa, cheese. The weight of the toppings sink into the middle. This one was veggie – just refried beans, veggies and salsa. Very good.
On the right, we have Garnaches, which are crispy fried flat corn circles, with toppings – like refried beans, salsa, onions and cheese. Of course you can get these with meat… They’re like round corn tortilla chips and may look light, but with the toppings they can quite fill you up!
These are the foods which are common to Central America. But the episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives I was looking at, was actually about a Garifuna establishment – the Garifuna nation comprises the descendants of Carib peoples of the Lesser Antilles and of Africans who had escaped from slavery – the British moved these people across the Caribbean to Central America. And so the food seems to be a combination of African influences (like the mashed plantains) and Amerindian, with the intensive use of cassava. But don’t rely on me for information – this is still a much-to-be-discovered area for me.
You can look at Wikipedia of course, or this blog on my blogroll, Rice and Beans, by a Belizean who’s actually writing post-graduate dissertations on food and culture! This was an interesting article highlighting foods and activities in Belize.
And of course Belize is famous for its Marie Sharp pepper sauces and condiments!
As a non-food note, I’ve always found that elements of the Guyanese accent are similar to (some) Belizeans – maybe it’s more in the approach to pronouncing words, or the particular drawl or rhythm…I’ve always put it down to Guyana, like Belize, being the only English-speaking country amid the latin nations. Accents, like food, interest me It’s a occupational-hazard….
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