Belize, widely known as the ‘melting pot’, is a term that applies to the kitchen as well as the cultures and people of Belize. To get the authentic experience of this country is to savor the flavors sprung from its roots. I have boiled it down to 5 authentic Belizean food favorites that are a must eat when visiting Belize.
Traveling to a new and foreign country might entail trying and eating foods that are different from what you are used to. But, take a chance and open your eyes and taste buds to a whole new range of authentic flavor profiles and foods. Here are the 5 Belizean food favorites that are a must eat when visiting Belize:
Rice and Beans
This is the staple food of Belizean cuisine. Primarily a Creole dish, eaten by all and readily available at most restaurants and street-side sellers. Rice and beans are made from red kidney beans, coconut milk or powder simmered, cooked and served with stew chicken, beef, pork or fried fish. It also served with a generous side of potato salad or coleslaw and fried ripe plantains with the option of a peppered onion sauce. The best tasting rice and beans are those cooked over a fire hearth adding an extra kick of smokey flavor.
Chimole or ‘Black Dinna’
A mouthwatering black colored soup with roots in Mestizo and Mayan culture. Chimole is made from a black paste called recado that gives its distinctive color. Black recado is a Maya origin condiment with a smoky and spicy flavor. Along with the black recado the soup consists of chicken, vegetables (onion, potatoes, chayote, pumpkin squash, tomatoes) and hard-boiled eggs served with corn tortillas or white rice.
Belizean onion soup with chicken stock as its base. Escabeche is rooted deep in the Maya-Mestizo culture and the main dish in northern Belize and other Mestizo communities. The chicken is seasoned with oregano and thyme, lightly broiled and then pan-fried to give it a crispy finish. The ingredient that gives it its distinct flavor is distilled white vinegar that makes the soup tangy and tart. In addition to the vinegar, a small can of jalapenos is also added for a kick of heat depending on how spicy you like it. It is a delicious and bright soup with the perfect balance of acidity and heat and typically served with corn tortillas or white rice.
Tamales, also called bollos is a savory traditional Mesoamerican food made from masa (corn dough) filled with seasoned chicken or pork, col (thick red gravy sauce) and steamed or boiled in banana leaves. This delicacy date back to the ancient Mayans who prepared this meal for feasts and celebrations during the Pre-classic period (1200-250 BC). Making tamales is a tedious and long process with much-needed help of extra hands, but the end result is an explosive cultural food experience.
A traditional Yucatec-Mayan pork dish that is slow roasted and marinated in an annatto seed paste or local spice known as recado. The pig is then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a smoldering pit lined with stones and coal underground. After hours of cooking, the resulting meat falls apart easily and has a rich seasoned flavor. Enjoyed and sold as tacos served with pickled onions, corn or flour tortillas and pepper.
Written by Jiyoung Chehade