Avid travellers will tell you, to really get to know a place you’ve got to try the local food. In Belize, “local” food is an eclectic collection of dishes with strong influences from the country’s many diverse cultures; like the Creole; Maya;Garifuna; Mestizo offered along with Caribbean; American; Indian and Chinese cuisine. While each culture uses unique flavours and cooking techniques, they all benefit from ingredients like fresh from the nut coconut milk, garden grown herbs and spices, organic fruits and vegetables and freshly caught seafood.
But if you had to nail it down to just one iconic Belizean dish, it would have to be coconut white rice and red kidney beans served with stewed chicken and chunky potato salad and fried ripe plantains. For added flavour, locals spice the dish up with one of several locally produced habanero based hot sauces. When ordering, if you would like to sound like a local, you would say it in one word: “riceandbeanschickenandsalad”.
When Prince Harry visits Belize on March 2nd and 3rd, while attending the Diamond Jubilee Block Party, His Royal Highness will be tempted to try the tastiest dishes from three of Belize’s diverse cultures. The Garifuna will offer Prince Harry Sahul, a sweet drink made using grated cassava (a ground food), condensed milk, cinnamon and nutmeg; for entrees− Hudut, a dish made from a mixture of green and ripe plantains and cassava served with fish hash. Cassava is also the main ingredient of the dessert; a sweet pudding nicknamed, “Plastic” because of its gelatinous texture.
The Mestizo’s menu will offer Atole, a creamy drink made from young corn, and an appetizer of conch Ceviche. Conch ceviche is fresh conch, diced and mixed with fresh lime juice, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and served with crunchy corn chips. The entree offered will be Tamalitos, which is a ground corn mixture cocooning seasoned chicken that has been cooked inside corn husks. For dessert, the Prince will sample a sweet dish made from fresh papaya called Conserva de Papaya.
The Creole cuisine will feature Conch Fritters, which as the name foreshadows, is made using fresh conch, onion, sweet pepper and a flour mixture. Other dishes will be Duck Satay with cashew sauce using cashew nuts grown in northern Belize; and lamb grilled in Belikin beer, the locally produced beer, and served with a coffee barbeque sauce. Dessert will be bread pudding made by combining bread, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs before baking until golden brown. Locals sometimes add fruit cocktail to the mixture before baking.
Prince Harry will get a chance to work off all that food on Saturday when he climbs the ancient Maya temple Xunantunich. Later that day, in one of the main plazas of the archaeological site, His Royal Highness will enjoy a Maya influenced lunch. The Maya menu will include Cayo Bollos, a corn mixture cooked in plantain leaves and Pibil, a pulled pork dish made by cooking a whole pig, that has been wrapped in plantain leaves, underground for several hours. The pibil will be served with handmade corn straight from the hot comal. Prince Harry will also get to try Holchuch, a refreshing dish made using slices of hicama and sweet oranges. For dessert, there’s candied papaya.
With those mouth-watering menus of Belizean delicacies offered, there’s a good chance Prince Harry will leave the country a little heavier than he arrived.
For more information about Belizean culture and local fare visit the Belize Tourism Board website.