Coconut anything and everything- You may have read my past post about coconuts so you’d know Phil and I LOVE the suckers. Belizean chefs use this local staple to flavor a plethora of dishes. Coconut rice, fish simmered in a coconut curry, fried coconut shrimp, shredded coconut candy, coconut bread a donuts… need I go on?!?! We go absolutely coconut crazy when we travel somewhere tropical. Perhaps the novelty wears off once you live there awhile but when we visit we feel the need to cram in as much coconut crap as possible.
Lionfish- yes, lionfish. That beautiful fish you might have seen in high-end exotic fish tanks. When I first saw it named on a menu (it was actually on a chalk board in someone’s yard in Placencia, the homeowner/ chef had a few tables set up and was grilling up a few dishes for a really reasonable price) I thought I must be mistaken with the type of fish I was envisioning; but I wasn’t. Afterwards I did a little internet reading and learned that the lionfish is an invasive species to Belize and the locals have a campaign to encourage the catching and eating of it because it’s so harmful to the reef and native fish population. While beautiful, lionfish are voracious eaters and breeders and they’re doing real damage to the underwater ecosystem. The good news is they’re delicious. I’ve read they might be a tad difficult to fillet- you have to be careful of their venomous spines- but the meat is delicately light and sweet. Grilled, blackened, curried, fried, or in a stew- when you’re in Belize and have the opportunity to order Lionfish just do it. As the slogan goes: “we gotta eat ‘em to beat ‘em!”
Fryjacks- breakfast of champions! Fry jacks are puffy fried dough triangles (think funnel cake without the sweetness) that are cut open and stuffed with your choice of yummy breakfast food. Eggs, cheese, beans, bacon, sausage, ham, grilled veggies- any combination you want. Phil loves breakfast burritos but I’m all about fryjacks when we’re in Belize. They’d be so delicious with a shot of maple syrup; I’m not sure if this is proper Belizean breakfast etiquette but trust me! It’d be like a sweet and savory fried dough sandwich.
#2 Stuffed Jalapeños
Stuffed jalapenos- Oh my goodness. First had these at Hurricanes in San Pedro and ordered them on a whim for a happy hour snack. They are knock-your-sandals off good. Very different than the American “jalapeno poppers,” these stuffed peppers are big- not bite sized. Giant jalapenos are de-seeded then stuffed with tender shredded chicken and cream cheese (I’m not a big fan of cream cheese and if I’d known this is what was in the peppers before I ordered I probably wouldn’t have tried them but thank God I was uninformed or else I might never have discovered these delectable creations). They’re then dipped in a beer batter- Belikin in all likelihood- then deep fried to golden perfection. The result is a non-greasy, not overly crispy shell encompassing a supple jalapeño that kicks you in the cheeks with hotness for a second until the creamy chicken and cheese mellow the burn. It’s a mouth sensation you want to repeat and repeat. Honestly just writing about it now has me craving a plate full. Oh, and they’re cheap and portable. Perfect on-the-go snack and if you’re lucky someone might walk up to you on the beach selling these from a giant Tupperware container. 2 for $5BZ is a deal when you consider how big they are and how much meat they pack. Can’t wait to get back down to Belize and eat these every day.
Lobster- Mmmmm, lobster. I love most shellfish; clams, crabs, shrimp, and scallops, but the crème de la crème is of course lobster. Truth be told I prefer Maine lobsters over their clawless Caribbean counterparts but as long as there is lobster on the table I’ll keep my mouth shut (in-between bites of delicious lobster of course). The reason you need to eat lobster in Belize is that it’s so affordable and widely available (two things it is NOT here in NJ and most places). What is better than indulging in a meal of lobster on a beautiful beach for a price you won’t feel guilty about once the lobster euphoria wears off? A whole grilled lobster dinner will typically set you back $30-$35BZ (or 15-18 american dollars) in a touristy restaurant and I’m sure you could find a meal more cheaply a little bit off the popular path. Besides the standard grilled lobster (smothered in citrus butter) you could try oven-fired lobster pizza, blackened lobster salbutes, habanero tequila lobster tacos, coconut curry lobster, bbq lobster tostados… you get the idea.
Okay, well there it is. I hope my list made you hungry and maybe even inspired you to take a trip to Belize and discover your own favorite foods in this flavorful little country.