Garifuna Settlement Day is celebrated each year on November 19th, allowing Belizeans to honor the historical and cultural importance of the Garifuna people. It is one of the most important holidays in Belize because it celebrates the arrival of the Garinagu people and Garifuna culture to the shores of Belize on November 19th, 1802.
The Garinagu people are mixed-race descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib, and Arawak people. With much history, culture, and tradition, on this day, Belizeans can expect a week of festivities such as parades, live music, drumming, dancing, Garifuna masses, and of course, a variety of delicious Garifuna cuisines. The Garinagu have certainly left their mark in Belize.
Traditional Garifuna foods are based around fish, chicken, cassava, bananas, and plantains. Most of the meals are rich and hearty. The foods are very labor-intensive and used to be cooked over an open fire hearth. Though stoves save time, most of the Garifuna families still prefer to cook over the fire hearth because of the unique taste it adds to the meals.
Arawak cooking, combined with African influences, come together as a mouth-watering Belizean delicacy that all must try. For example, Sere is a very common traditional meal. It is a creamy coconut fish soup infused with local spices, served with a side of coconut rice, seasoned ripe plantains, and mashed greens or yams. This meal will certainly leave your taste buds bursting with flavor!
Below you can find the ingredients for Chef Sean Kuylen’s famous Garifuna Fish Sere.
Garifuna Fish Sere via Chef Sean Kuylen
- 4 large green plantains, peeled
- 2 large ripe plantains, peeled
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 whole habanero peppers, deseeded
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 medium snapper filets
Place green and ripe plantains in a pot of salted water and boil until ripe plantains are soft, approximately 20 minutes. Drain. Purée while still warm, adding water to keep the consistency of porridge and set aside. Place coconut milk, onion, garlic, habanero, and basil in a stockpot and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes. Add snapper fillets to the rich coconut broth, and continue to simmer until the fish is cooked. Add salt to taste. Drop spoonfuls of purée into a bowl of hot soup.
Serves 4 to 6.
Savor the distinctive spices that can only derive from the Garifuna Culture!
Recipe courtesy of Flavors of Belize: The Cookbook
Eat like a local