Eat Like the Belizean Locals 

by McNab Editorial Team
belizean food

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience”-James Beard 

Food is a universal experience no matter where you travel. Savory and delicious foods make lasting impressions that make the country you travel to memorable. Travel for some is all about food. Many eat to live while others live to eat. 

Belize is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities which implies there are multiple cuisines of foods. The majority of Belize’s population is Mestizo, which is a mixture of Maya and Spanish. It is then followed by Maya, Garifuna, Chinese, Creole, and Mennonites. There are also small percentages of other ethnicities such as Jamaicans, Lebanese and Americans as well as Europeans residing here.  

MUST-TRY FOODS IN BELIZE 

Food is such a broad topic. Belize has so much to offer, however, there are specific Belizean signature dishes that locals enjoy eating daily. If you want to fully experience the life of a Belizean, here are a couple of foods you won’t want to miss tasting before you leave. 

BREAKFAST 

Johnnycakes

To Belizeans, these are what biscuits are to Americans. It is a common and favorite Belizean breakfast made from flour, coconut milk, shortening and baking powder that is lightly baked in the oven until golden brown. Johnnycakes were originally made with cornmeal by the Native Americans and then it caught on and was used by the slaves but with flour. It is normally served with ham and cheese in the middle or topped with refried beans, cheese, eggs, and ground meat.  

Fry Jacks

These are also a typical Belizean choice of breakfast. Fry jacks are deep-fried dough pieces made from flour, baking powder, salt, vegetable shortening and fried in the shape of triangles and circles. It is very light and addictive and served along with refried beans, eggs, cheese, bacon or ham. Fry jacks also pair amazingly with local fruit jelly or jam.  

Meat pies

Meat pies are handmade pies made of dough stuffed with chicken or beef. It is cooked till golden brown crisp on the outside and hot and juicy on the inside. If you like a spicy kick to start your day, meat pies are surely a great option. The most popular pies sold in Belize are Dario’s meat pie, Belizean Meat pie, Pou meat pie and recently hot on the list is Moe’s pizza meat pies. They are budget-friendly with each pie costing anywhere from $0.85 to 1.50 Belizean dollars and filling. It is normally eaten for breakfast but also makes a good lunch or dinner.  

Tacos 

These tacos are a staple breakfast for Belizeans. In almost every main street corner you see vendors selling tacos. It is made with corn or flour tortilla and served with pork or chicken. There are also options to eat with onion, cabbage or hot sauce. They are normally sold 3 tacos for 1 Belizean dollar. The best district for eating tacos is up north of Belize in Orange Walk Town. Every year Orange Walk celebrates an annual Tacos fest where crowds gather to experience this tasty festival. The festival showcase a wide array of tacos styles and flavors. There are also local drinks served, cultural presentations and live performances by local artists.  

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LUNCH/DINNER 

The famous rice and beans

It is one of Belize’s staple Creole cuisine. It is made from white rice, coconut milk, and red or black beans. Along with that, a choice of stew chicken, fry whole fish, fish fillet or bake chicken. It is also served with coleslaw or potato salad and fried plantains. This savory dish can be found in food stalls and restaurants across the country and sold at 7 Belizean dollars a plate.  

Cow foot soup

Sounds odd but it is a tasty Belizean meal made from cow foot alongside potatoes, okra, onion, cilantro carrots, and pepper. It is a nutritious and hearty meal packed with flavor. Cow foot is normally served with steamed white rice or corn tortillas. It can be bought at local restaurants and costs anywhere from $10 to 12 Belizean dollars.  

Tamales

These are traditional Mestizo and Mayan food. Unlike the Mexican tamale, Belizean tamales are wrapped in plantain leaves and not in corn husks. It is made of corn dough also known as masa and filled with seasoned meat (chicken or pork) and col which is a red filling made from red recado, onion, garlic, masa, seasonings, and water. The tamales are then wrapped in banana or plantain leaves and left to steam or boil. It is a meal that’s popular for Christmas, funerals and small gatherings. Tamales are sold at many street vendors stands from $1.50 to 3 Belizean dollars.  

Boil Up

Lastly, there is the delectable dish called “Boil up” popularized all around the country, but mainly in the southern regions of Belize. This dish is a combination of healthy and non-healthy starches. Every item is boiled from ground foods (yam, cassava, sweet potatoes, plantain), to the meats (fish and pigtails) to the cake dough and eggs. This meal is topped with tomato sauce, coconut oil, and sautéed onions. Boil up can be bought at local restaurants for $10-15 Belizean dollars.  

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Live to eat and live to make experiences last a lifetime. Do your taste buds a favor and don’t count the calories but enjoy all that Belize has to offer, Bon Appetit!  

Written by Jiyoung Chehade

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