Many would argue that the perfect bite doesn’t exist, it’s almost certain that many have not had the unique culinary experience that is a Belizean fry jack. Fry jacks are pieces of dough, deep-fried to crisp golden perfection, commonly featured in Belizean cuisine. These warm, fluffy morsels are most frequently paired with other breakfast items such as eggs, jam, refried beans, and cheese. If you’d like to make these tasty treats at home, fry jacks are made using four simple ingredients found in pantries everywhere: flour, water, shortening, and baking powder. Combine them with a pinch of salt and deep-fry in shallow oil; like many of your Instagram posts, you’re gonna have to wait until golden to truly capture the essence of the Belizean fry jack.
This breakfast staple is found across the country, and if you have an appetite for adventure you might make your way to the Grove House Restaurant at the Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. The Grove House is loved and renowned for its farm to table experience. Simply meaning that all ingredients are organic and locally-sourced to provide you with the highest quality Belizean cuisine. (It’s no wonder The Grove House boasts the title of “Restaurant of the Year” for both 2018 and 2019!) The Grove House offers you a one of a kind culinary delight with their traditional “Village Breakfast”.
The Village Breakfast includes farm-fresh eggs with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro served with a side of “faya haat” beans, stewed chicken and of course their signature fry jacks! If you’re unsure of what “faya haat” means let me tell you, you are about to consume a Belizean delicacy! The term “faya haat” is used to describe food that is painstakingly prepared in the hearth of an open wood fire. This style of cooking is a part of Belizean culinary tradition, and it provides the perfect amount of smoky flavor to any dish. As you patiently wait for your order of the Belizean favorite take in the breathtaking sights of the Maya Mountains, and indulge yourself in a freshly squeezed orange juice straight from the neighbouring orchard.
While a fry jack can be enjoyed anywhere why not make breakfast an adventure in Belize.
Belizean Rum Popo Recipe… A Local Christmas Tradition
A Christmas Must Have!
Rum Popo is a delicious traditional rum crème made in Belize that is somewhat similar to Eggnog. This festive blend is served during the Christmas season as a celebratory drink shared with family and friends to celebrate the Christmas season and to welcome them into our homes. A glass of festive rum popo is a very important part of the traditional Belizean Christmas and is sure to warm up the heart.
It is very common in Belize for homemade bottles of Rum Popo to be given as Christmas gifts to friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We hope you enjoy one of our favorite recipes for this Christmas must have.
RUM POPO RECIPE
(Makes approx. four 750 ml. bottles)
TOOLS large mixing bowl hand mixer liquid measuring cup ladle a funnel 4 – 750ml bottles, a punch bowl or a pitcher
INGREDIENTS 9 eggs 5 cans evaporated milk 3 cans sweetened condensed milk 1 pint white rum (Belize’s Caribbean Rum, is the best to use but a good substitute is Wray & Nephew. NO Bacardi) 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder 1 tablespoon ground fresh nutmeg
DIRECTIONS – Blend eggs in mixing bowl 15-20 minutes – Add evaporated milk. Blend for approximately three minutes. – Pour in condensed milk, rum and vanilla extract. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg evenly over the mixture. – Blend rum popo mixture approximately two minutes or until all parts are evenly dispersed. – Use measuring cup to pour mixtures into bottles with a funnel or ladle to pour into punch bowl or pitcher. – Keep chilled and stir before serving – Serve with ice and garnish with cinnamon powder or a cinnamon stick
The Belize Collection Chefs represent Belize
Belmopan City, April 26th, 2017: On Tuesday, April 25th, 3 Belizean Chefs under the The Belize Collection Hotel Group & Adventure Company represented Belize as judges at the 3rd Annual “Gastronomic Festival Guatemagica” in Retalhuleu, Guatemala.
Since the start of the Guatemagica Gastronomic Festival in 2015, the aim has been to expose and promote the proper use of raw material produced in the municipality of Retalhuleu in signature traditional dishes of Guatemala. Participants of the festival were asked to develop local gastronomy as a tourism product; to promote the tourist attractions offered by Guatemágica but most importantly to promote the culinary culture in Guatemala.
Representing Belize for the very first time at this years’ event were Chef Oscar Adan Reyes, Chef Rahim Melendez and Chef Indeira Duran individually representing Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge, The Lodge at Jaguar Reef, Almond Beach Resort and Villa Margarita. This high level culinary event brought together participants from all over Central America with very esteemed chefs carefully judging the competition. Participants were asked to expose their skills and creativity in presenting unique dishes made with local products such as: Güisquil, Suchile, Miel Organic, Jocote and Marañón.
According to Chef Adan, “We are honored for such a great invitation and experience. Activities such as “Guatemagica” leave us in awe as this inspired us as young Belizean chefs to continue cooking using our local products of Belize. As this was our first Culinary Food Festival Event, we look forward in continuing to represent The Belize Collection and in extension our country Belize in many more Culinary Food Festivals within Central America bringing full exposure to what Belize has to offer as a unique destination inviting all to discover how to be!” If you would like more information about this topic, please contact our Marketing Department at (501) 822-3851 or email at [email protected].
A Melting Pot of Cultures
One of the best ways to truly experience Belize is by getting to know the culture and interacting with our friendly people. Having a population of approximately 347,369, the Garinagu also referred to as Garifuna (mixture of African & Caribbean Indian heritage), the Mestizos (mixture of Spanish and Mayas), the Creoles or Kriols (mixture of African and European) and the Mayas make up the majority of the population of Belize. East Indians, Chinese, Mennonites, Lebanese, Europeans, North and Latin Americans also contribute to Belize’s rich diverse culture.
From left to right: a Garinagu wearing the brightly traditional costume, a Mestizo wearing the traditional ‘Huipil’, a Creole wearing a white blouse called Chemise Décolleté and lastly, a Maya wearing her traditional clothing decorated with embroidery.
One of the many numerous charms of Belize is that such a diversity of cultures and races can live respectively in relative peace; while, practicing their own religions, connecting with their own conventional societies and talking distinctive dialects.
From district to district, you can experience the extraordinary mix that the different groups contribute to Belize’s melting pot of cultures. Going to the southern part of the country, along the south coast of Belize, you will find various towns and villages inhabited by the Garinagu.
The Garifuna Culture in Belize
Declared as one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by the United Nations, the Garinagu first arrived in Belize, known as British Honduras at the time, on November 19, 1802. Even though they are commonly known as “Garifuna”, the proper term to refer to this group of people is “Garinagu”; whereby, the culture along with the language are properly called “Garifuna”.
The Belize National Garifuna Council estimates that there are 500,000 Garinagu Worldwide of which 15,000 are located in Belize namely Dangriga, Hopkins, Seine Bight, Punta Gorda and Barranco.
Garifuna food is mostly based on rich and hearty meals. Their traditional foods include fish, chicken, cassava, bananas and plantains.
Cassava is a very important item as part of their diet. From cassava they can make bread, drinks, pudding and even wine for them to enjoy.
One of their common traditional meals is ‘Hudut’ or also locally known as ‘sere’. Hudut is made from cooked fish in a coconut broth and served with mashed plantains or yams. Other cultures serve and enjoy this meal either with corn tortillas or white rice.
Music and Dance closely identifies the Garifuna Culture as suggested by UNESCO’s recognition. Garifuna music is mostly based on ‘primero’ known as tenor and ‘segunda’ known as bass drums. These drums are made from hollowed-out hardwoods mostly mahogany or mayflower which are native to Belize.
If you are looking for an opportunity for self-expression, musical creativity and lots of fun as how the Garifuna do; then, delve into the captivating rhythm of the Garinagu with Clayton Williams. Clayton is one of Belize’s Top Garifuna Drummers and three time winner of The Battle of the Drums. You can have the ultimate Garifuna Drumming Experience by being part of these unique drumming classes with Clayton Williams. Drumming lessons are available on request at Almond Beach Resortand Spa
To further indulge into this dynamic culture, the The Lodge at Jaguar Reef& Spa offers extra-ordinary performances by the Dangriga Garifuna Dance Academy. Garifuna Night is every Friday night between 7:00 – 7:30 pm. The Garinagu enlighten us with their songs, dances and music taking us back in time to experience more of their beliefs and philosophy that categorizes them as a unique and exceptional culture.
Top six must have foods in Belize
Relleno Negro or Black Dinner
Don’t be scared by its “unique” name or by its color, this soup is one of the heartiest, soul warming soups you will ever taste. Relleno Negro or Black Dinner is a Mayan dish quite popular in Belize; the black color comes from a Mayan condiment called black recado which gives the dish a smoky, spicy, and strong flavor. The soup includes a mixture of chicken, ground beef and pork (which are the base of the huge meatballs), eggs, garlic, onions, tomatoes, chili, and other Belizean spices. Take a chance, be adventurous, and try this soup, we’re pretty sure you’ll be asking for the recipe from a local before you leave.
Coming to Belize and NOT having Tamales has to be some sort of blasphemy. A Tamal is a delicious traditional Mesoamerican dish that begins with layering corn dough (also known as masa), an orang-ish sauce called cull, which is made with red achiote paste, garlic, onions and a blend of spices, and finished off with seasoned cooked chicken. These three are layered in a roasted plantain leaf, which is what holds this mouth-watering Belizean dish together. The plantain leaf is then folded into and envelope style package and wrapped with twine then steamed to perfection and served hot with a side of hot Belizean onion sauce or pico de gallo. This dish screams traditional Belizean Cuisine and is a must have when in Belize. Just remember to remove the plantain leave before eating…it is not bitter green lettuce.
Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to roast it. Cochinita means “young pig” and the Maya word pibil means “buried”. But now, Belizean cooks have found a way of getting that smoky flavour without having to do all that hard work. One way is to take a ham leg or shoulder and season it with traditional spices, wrap it in a plantain leaf (for additional smoky flavor) and slow cook it in a large pot or slow cooker. Cochinita Pibil which ever way it is cooked is loaded with flavor and is absolutely delicious! It is mainly served tacos style with fresh corn tortillas and topped with cilantro, pickled or raw sliced onions and avocado chunks (and habanero pepper to taste, depending on how Belizean you are).
Rice and Beans
Rice and Beans is locally called the National Dish of Belize, mainly because it is eaten by a large percentage of the population on Sundays. The rice and beans are cooked together with coconut milk and is complimented perfectly with stewed chicken made with a blend of Belizean spices, potato salad and fried ripe plantain. There’s a reason this dish is eaten every Sunday (and other days during the week) by many, It’s just a perfect combination and represents the Belizean culture so well: Many different flavors (cultures) all in one plate (country).
Ceviche was not invented in Belize, but actually in Peru and can be found all over Central America and Mexico. None the less, like most other things in Belize, the ceviche here has its own twist. While most ceviche found in other countries are a bit sweeter with little sea food found in them, the Belizean ceviche is tangy and loaded with sea food. Belizean Ceviche is made with conch, fish, shrimp, lobster, or a mix of all four and is definitely a top 6 must have dishes in Belize. Ceviche consists of chucks of seafood of your choice, diced onions, tomatoes, and chopped cilantro, salt, black pepper, and lots of natural lime juice. Served with a side of freshly fried corn tortilla chips you cannot go wrong with this perfect afternoon snack while lounging on the beach.
Panades is definitely a taste bud teaser and you’ll be without a doubt asking for second. Panades or in Spanish called Empanadas are crispy golden brown pockets of deliciousness. Panades are made with corn dough, also called masa and are started off flat like a tortilla and layered with either beans, cooked fish or chicken, folded and deep fried until golden brown. Panades are normally served with an onion-cilantro salsa that screams scrumptiousness in your mouth. This is the Belizean version of fast food and is cheap and easy to find all over Belize.
Remember to take your taste buds on an adventure while in Belize, and make sure to share your thoughts and pictures of your culinary experience in Belize with us. Look out for recipes for each of these dishes and much more!