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Tastes of Belize

Salbutes- BelizeI 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.

Garnaches - Belize

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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10 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. What a great post! Also makes me hungry with those pictures and yummy descriptions!

    1. Nicole on May 26th, 2011 at 2:00 pm
  2. thanks Nicole :-) Since I’ve had the taste of these foods…I think next time I’ll go looking for some of the other influences!

    2. Chennette on May 26th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
  3. Always been curious about Belize which supposedly is a CARICOM country – are they still?

    3. wizzythestick on May 26th, 2011 at 9:26 pm
  4. yes indeedy they are still a member of CARICOM. The region gets things like red beans from them!

    4. Chennette on May 26th, 2011 at 10:28 pm
  5. Funny. last night mom and I watched a house hunters international, a couple buying a vacation cabin in Belize.

    We liked the styles. Some of the stuff reminded mom of Guyana.

    She’s wanting you to take her.

    5. Lilandra on May 28th, 2011 at 10:30 pm
  6. heh – low-lying, hardwoods…big rivers…yup like Guyana :-)

    6. Chennette on May 28th, 2011 at 11:14 pm
  7. Yeah , shukran Lilandra as she started this so lol she can continue…

    7. trinimom on May 29th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
  8. The best Caribbean Holidays can be enjoyed by everyone. No matter what your budget or if you are single, just married or looking for that getaway for your huge family, these islands have something for everyone.

    8. Caribbean Holidays on August 16th, 2011 at 4:12 pm
  9. I’ve never heard of Garnaches before but they look delicious. Although they look light…. with meat, cheese and salsa I could image them being so filling. BTW is that habanera peppers sprinkled on the top?

    9. Sherene on August 24th, 2011 at 8:44 am
  10. Hi Sherene! They did look really light, but with beans or meat they fill you up faster than you’d think. Those are jalapenos on top.

    10. Chennette on August 24th, 2011 at 9:33 pm

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