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Flavors of Belize The Cookbook: Diverse Culture, Exotic Cuisine

Flavors of Belize cookbook

Cuisine in Belize is exotic and delicious. This cookbook captures it all.

What comes to mind when you think about Belize? White sand beaches, snorkeling and diving colorful reefs, perhaps hot Punta rock music? But food, other than perhaps fresh fish on the beach, is probably not high on your list.

However, after reading Flavors of Belize The Cookbook, you’ll know food should be the first thing that you consider when you think about this tropical nation. In fact, this new cookbook, which brings together an amazing collection of cooks and chefs that explore the diverse and delicious cuisine of this diminutive country, may just make Belize a new culinary hot spot.

Belize is a small Central American nation bordered to the north by Mexico, to the south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Its cuisine has been influenced by its British Colonial roots and by Mexican and Western Caribbean foods.

Additionally, Belizean food incorporates flavors from its many immigrants, including Asians, Syrians, Indians, Scots, Spanish, Mayan, Mennonites, Creole, Garifuna (peoples with African, West Indian, and Caribbean ancestry), as well as from refugee neighbors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Combine all that with a tropical climate and access to the sea and you can see why Belizean food is fascinating. Flavors of Belize is the first cookbook to really capture this diversity of flavors.

The cookbook is the brainchild of Tanya McNab, publisher of the Flavors of Belize magazine. McNab was born in Belize and her family operated a successful grocery store and had a radio show called “The Belizean Cookhouse” that featured local recipes. Many of these authentic, home-grown recipes became the genesis of The Flavors of Belize cookbook.

Diverse Recipes, Gorgeous Food Photos

This cookbook is divided into Starters; Soups; Seafood; Pork, Chicken, and Meat; Salads and Vegetables; Breads, Grains, and Legumes; Finishing Touches (salsas, sauces, pickles); and Desserts. Each section starts with a page describing various ethnic groups in Belize that have influenced its cuisine, such as The Mestizo, The Garifuna, The Maya, and others, as well as information about the Caribbean Sea. These introductory pieces give the reader a context for the rich and varied recipes within.

Bowl of Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce on napkin on wood picnic table

Much of Belizean food is based on fresh seafood like this shrimp in black bean sauce.

The recipes themselves are easily and simply organized and each includes Ingredients, Directions, and Yields. Many also contain little cultural nuggets like the fact that the name Kack ick Soup is from the queck’chi Maya language and means Spicy Red Soup. Or that caramel is known in Latin America as dulce de leche and can be purchased in many supermarkets.

Two Garanches on a green plate

Garanches, corn fried tortillas smeared with beans and shredded cheese, is a favorite snack in Belize.

The dishes reflect the diverse cultures that make up Belize. For instance, Starters include Achiote Shrimp, a decidedly Latin American dish; Conch Civiche, a Caribben contribution; Seafood Wontons, an Asian-influenced recipe; Garnaches, a traditional Mestizo dish; and more. In the section on Seafood, there are recipes from Coconut Curry Shrimp and Fish Tacos to Lobster Thermidor. The Salads and Vegetables offer directions for Jicama Salad, Curry Okra, Fried Breadfruit, Mango Salad, and more familiar recipes likw Potato Salad and Roasted Potatoes. Desserts include everything from Fudge made with sweetened condensed milk (very British) to Maya Chocolate Cake and Caribbean Crème Brulee made with mango, pineapple, and coconut (can it get more tropical than that?). Together this recipe collection creates an exciting and fun journey for any adventuresome cook who has a curious palate.

While not every recipe in the book has its own photograph, there are beautiful food photographs featured on every other page. The food stylist/photographer team of Matt Armendariz and Adam C. Pearson worked together to create lush images that fairly leap off the page and give the book a rich feel that makes me want to try recipe after recipe.

Real Bottom Line: The Flavors of Belize The Cookbook is a fun, exciting cookbook that offers a wealth of interesting recipes for cooks of all levels. This is a cookbook that is bound to have me spending many hours playing in my kitchen. – Review Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

Flavors of Belize

Try this Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce recipe from Flavors of Belize.

Or check out Flavors of Belize’s recipe for Garanches, a crispy, hearty snack you’ll love.

 

 



Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at realfoodtraveler.com.