HOW DO YOU SPELL BELIZE. . . Growing up in Belize, we used to have a small saying, "how do you spell Belize - it's rice and beans , chicken and cheese, that's the way to spell Belize". Over the years, a lot in Belize has changed, however, many staples have remained. The favorite meal on Sunday is Rice and Beans and stewed chicken and if you are going to eat bun or garnaches, salty Dutch cheese is the favorite. Favored soups are Escabeche (an onion vinegar soup), Chimole (soup made from chiote paste which is a blend of spices commonly used in Maya cuisine), Conch soup and Sere (fish stew). At Christmas, many homes will be made ready for the holiday with new "marle" (laminate flooring), new table cloths and curtains and the Black Label whiskey will be out awaiting guests.
Today, we still hear that Belizeans are a friendly lot - if you walk down the street in the morning, you will more often than not hear a "mawn'n" or two. Belizeans living abroad will always ask visiting family and friends to bring Sunny & Tan Bun, Dutch Cheese, Wood & Dun butter and Salad cream (for potato salad), all still staples in Belizean homes.
With progress come changes, and if we had to remake the saying, what else would it include in 2014.
In years past, most Belizean households had a form of pepper on the table, whether homemade in a sauce or just sliced habaneros. But life has become easier and we have Marie Sharps hot sauce - most dishes in Belize have a dash or two of mild, hot or fiery hot, not for heat, but for the wonderful flavor that this hot sauce adds. So now Belizeans travel with their "Marie Sharp's", another must have on the dining room table.
Coconut milk - an oldie, but goodie. Rice is not rice without coconut milk, but the days of "milking" the nut are over, you can get a good coconut powder in a pack. But don't worry, BRL's Sunday rice and bean's and the curry's coconut rice always has the "milked" coconut milk.
Our grandmother's and great gran's always made homemade preserves, stewed papaya, plum or cashew, and while yummy it was labor intensive, and why make jam now when Marie Sharp's Jam is just as good as homemade. Marie Sharp's jam add wonderful Belizean flavors to the breakfast table - pineapple, guava, mixed fruit, mango are all jam flavors that we have grown accustomed to eating on our morning toast.
Growing up when you asked for cookies in Belize, you would get "Big Bouy" (a caramelized ginger coconut filling in a flaky crust), Powder Buns, Hard Time Bisquits and Honeybun all delicious and made from natural ingredients, fresh coconut, ginger, honey, raw sugar. Now, we Belizeans are eating more store bought cookies, like Oreos and Chips Ahoy. We enjoy it all but sadly when looking for someone to make an original "big bouy", it is getting harder and harder to find.
School children around Belize used to seen walking home with a plastic bag of green mango, sapra (small sour yellow fruit), craboo, green plum or orange, with a little crushed halapeno in salt. Now a days, kids are eating Plaintain chips, Cassava chips or imported bagged chips instead of the long ago healthier snack - well, minus the salt.
Homemade ideals (fresh frozen fruit juices in a bag) have been substituted with Coke, Fanta and Coolaid in most households. It is extremely hard to find a fresh ideal anymore. And in the days of yester-year, Sunday's stewed chicken was fried with homemade coconut oil before being stewed, now it is store bought vegetable oil and while still tasty, we are missing the flavor of the coconut. Cutabrute (chucked coconut candy), Tablata (shredded coconut candy) & fudge have been replaced with Snickers, Skittles and
And sadly, our Colonial finger sandwiches, which used to be the appetizers at most parties and functions in Belize, and Marguerite's mother excelled at preparing, have been replaced with cheese dip & and ceviche (fish, conch, shrimp, chicken foot - just about anything can be made into ceviche), and while yummy, Belize's colonial history is being lost little by little.
So how do we spell Belize in 2014 - "it's Marie Sharps, Ceviche and some modernization, along with the rice and beans, chicken and cheese". While we have included some modernizations in our homes, Belizeans still like good wholesome food and even better company, as without visitors, with whom would we be sharing all this good food and drink?
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