Food in Belize
Belize is a melting pot of cultures, which makes the food so exciting and flavorful. Authentic dishes derive from the Mestizo, Maya, Garifuna, and Creole people, but immigrants from India, China, Nigeria and neighboring countries over the years have added an international flare to Belizean cuisine. With its Caribbean location, Belize offers some of the best seafood. Fresh fish, lobster, shrimp, and conch are widely available.
The staple of Belizean cuisine is rice and beans cooked in coconut milk and served together with chicken, beef, pork, lobster, shrimp, or fish. The meat is cooked with recado (a spice made with annato seed, a native herb with a characteristic deep red color), and can be fried, stewed or grilled. Rice and beans is often served as an accompaniment to almost any main dish.
A mixture of Spanish and Mayan influence, traditional dishes include garnaches, tamales, and tamalitos. Garnaches are fried corn tortilla with re-fried beans and shredded cheese. Tamales are made from ground corn and chicken, wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. Tamalitos are made from ground sweet corn and chicken, wrapped in the leaves of corn on the cobs and steamed. Also common are Panades, which are fried corn patties with beans and either shredded fish or chicken, topped with an onion sauce.
Boil up is a healthy and nutritional food in Belize. It is a combination of root vegetables, plantain, eggs, and fish boiled together in a rich tomato sauce. Among the other main staples of a Creole dinner are rice and beans with stewed meat, potato salad or coleslaw.
Fish, chicken, cassava, bananas, and plantains are found in traditional Garifuna food. Cassava is one of the staples and is extremely versatile; it is made into bread, drinks, puddings and even wine. Hudutu is a very common meal, consisting of fish cooked in a coconut broth and served with mashed plantains or yams. Dharasa is the Garifuna version of a tamale made with green bananas. It can be made either sweet or sour.
Other Belizean food favorites are:
Belizean ceviche at its best is made with raw conch and shrimp. The seafood is diced and steeped in lime juice for a few hours under refrigeration and tossed with sliced cucumber, tomatoes, onions and chopped cilantro, black pepper and Habanero pepper. Some Belizeans prefer the queen conch for a gourmet ceviche. It is served with fried corn tortilla chips, and often times a Belikin Beer.
A dish from the Maya, Cochinita Pibil is pork at it’s finest. The pork is marinated in an orange juice flavored with annatto seed, wrapped in plantain leaf, and slow roasted until the meat is tender. The cochinita pibil dish is served with hot hand-made corn tortillas, avocado and fresh Habanero Pepper sauce.
Belizean tamales are a traditional Maya and Mestizo food. Tamales are squares of cornmeal stuffed with chicken, pork or beans, along with green peas, onion and chunks of tomato. Unlike the typical Mexican tamale, Belizean tamales are not wrapped in cornhusks but are instead wrapped in plantain or banana leaves. The tamales are then steamed over an open fire until cooked.
Derived from Maya and Spanish cuisine, Escabeche is an exotic chicken soup with onions as the main part of the body. The chicken is seasoned with oregano and thyme, lightly broiled, then roasted and served in a light and clear chicken soup seasoned with onions, black pepper, allspice, and jalapeno pepper. The one ingredient that makes this soup unique is distilled white vinegar.
Primarily served as a breakfast favorite with eggs, re-fried beans, and cheese, Johnny cakes are small baked bread cakes made with flour and coconut milk. You can also enjoy a johnny cake for lunch with added bits of stewed chicken or beef.
Belize Fruit Cake
Being a part of the British Caribbean, Belize has adopted many English traditions, including the traditional fruitcake. Popular around holidays, it is a cake with preserved fruits baked in and then stored for a couple of days after being generously doused with dark local or Caribbean rum.