Culture and Cuisine

The school Mitch attends, Peninsula International Academy, hosted their annual International Family Feast Day on Monday.  It’s a fun event allowing students to showcase a dish that is significant to their cultural heritage and it’s a great excuse to hit the buffet line!

Belize is it’s own little melting pot of peoples- Mayan, Kriol, Garifuna, Mennonites, East Indian, Chinese and more.  This is evident in the local cuisine, a smash-up of world influences.  Walk down the road at lunch time and you can find Mexican tacos, pupusas from El Salvador, North American style hot dog and burgers, and Indian curries all sharing space in this little village.  PIA’s Family Feast brought all these great cuisines and more together for an epic potluck.  There was plenty of the traditional Belizean party favorites- panadas, rice and beans, chips and cheese dip.

But I was impressed to see the variety of dishes from around the globe.  Milk tart from South Africa, German challah bread, sausage and sauerkraut, pad thai and other Asian noodle recipes, English sheppard’s pie, and the clear kid favorite- Italian pizza.

It was a lovely afternoon of fellowship for us parents as we happily sampled everyone’s dishes.

The kids were dismissed early and the following day school was closed for the holiday.  What holiday you ask?  Garifuna Settlement Day!  About 200 years ago Belize became a refuge for the Garifuna people (Afro-carib slaves that had risen up against the British) and their cultural pride has allowed them to keep traditional language, music, dance, storytelling, and cuisine alive and mostly intact.  Any village with a significant Garifuna population can be expected to celebrate with at least some Punta music and a boil-up.  Places like Dangriga, Hopkins, and Siene Bight all also have a re-enactment of the landing.  It’s usually at sunrise and consists of wooden dories laden with people drumming and singing and dressed in traditional clothing.

Tipsy Tuna had a re-enactment in the afternoon that we missed this year but if you’re visiting Placencia on a Wednesday night you MUST pop in to Tipsy for the free Garifuna drumming, dancing and cultural presentation.  Maybe the rhythm will move you!


About the author

Megan Rodden

never met a vacation she didn't like. Megan is a self-centered, snarky, unambitious derelict... like most of her peers.

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© 2014 Megan Rodden and Phil Nagengast.