tastily touring: visiting belize with an authentic ceviche recipe
Belize lies on the eastern or Caribbean coast of Central America and is bordered by Mexico to the north and (partly) to the west. The remainder of the west and the south of Belize is bordered by Guatemala. Belize is the least populated country in Central America.
Belize is a diverse society that was the only nation in the region with a British colonial heritage that also has cultural ties to the Caribbean and Latin American countries. Territorial disputes between the United Kingdom and Guatemala held up Belize’s independence until 1981.
The history of Belize predates European influence as it was originally populated by the Amerindians (Caribs, Arawaks and Mayas). Mayan civilization spread from the Yucatan Peninsula, to the north, down to Belize. Mayan civilization flourish in Belize from around 200-800AD and begins to decline in the late 800’s to 1000AD. The first Europeans arrived in 1511 when shipwrecked Spanish sailors found themselves in what is now Belize. Interestingly, one of the sailors married into a noble Mayan family and his children became the first Mestizos (Amerindian-European Ethnicity). Despite attempts, the Spanish were unable to defeat the Maya in the 1530’s and subsequently had difficulty settling the region; however the Spanish Crown did claim it.
In the 1660 Bartholomew Sharpe, a famous British pirate makes Belize his base of operations and begins to harvest the valuable logwood tree whose sapwood was used in Europe to dye clothing. By the 1700’s mahogany became a valuable commodity and was exported. More English would settle the area as a result. The Spanish permitted the British to occupy the area in exchange for an end to piracy.
As the saying goes, possession is 9/10ths the law. With the British colonizing Belize it was difficult for the Spanish to maintain control. The British finally appointed a superintendent over the region in the late 1700’s. Spain began many attempts to forcefully gain control over Belize. These were unsuccessful and ended on September 10, 1798 when the British forced the Spanish back in a battle known as the Battle of St. George’s Caye.
The British sent the first official representative to the area in the late 18th century but Belize was not formally termed the Colony of British Honduras until 1840. It became a Crown Colony in 1862. However, by 1964, several constitutional changes were enacted allowing for a full internal self-government. By 1973 the official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize.
Belize is a melting pot of many ethnicities such as Mayan, Kriols, Garifuna and Mestizos. Populated by Belize is a multi-ethnic country and is occupied by a number of ethnic groups such as Mayans, Mennonites, Kriols, Garifuna, Spanish and Mestizo. The official language of Belize is English, but Spanish is also commonly used.
With such an interesting ethnic mix the cuisine of Belize is naturally just as varied. It is difficult to nail down one definitive Belizean food. Caribbean, Mexican, African, Spanish and Mayan influences can all be found in Belizean dishes.
Rice and beans, stew chicken, Johnny cakes and dukunu are just a pittance of Belizean staples. Naturally, seafood is predominant and extremely fresh. The popularity of the seaweed shake caught our attention; however we could not find a particular recipe for it, only that it included dried, natural seaweed, condensed and evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and ice. With those ingredients even seaweed tastes good and if you are wondering, the shake is not green.
With the availability of fresh seafood ceviche is a very popular dish. It is cool and refreshing in the hot climate and it does not require traditional cooking. Instead the fish is “cooked” by marinating in lime juice. Belizean ceviche can be made from fish, conch, and lobster, whatever is available. This ceviche may keep the cook cool by not requiring the use of a stove, but it may heat up the diner as it contains habanero peppers and Marie Sharp’s Habanero sauce (a Belizean hot sauce). Check out the How to Video below.
1. How to blur the background of your photos by switching your camera to Aperture Priority, Nikon uses a dial switched to “A”. Zoom in, choose the lowest F-number. This not only works with portraits but any subject. AV For Cannon users.
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One pound, diced conch fillet, lobster, shrimp (any one or combination)
¼ cup diced onion
1 ½ cup chopped, fresh tomato
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped cucumber (optional)
½ cup minced, fresh cilantro
1 cup, fresh squeezed key lime juice
½ cup chopped habanero pepper
Marie Sharp’s Habanero sauce (optional)
1. Place fish in a large bowl and cover with cool water, washing it and rinsing in a colander.
2. While fish is draining in the colander, wash the large bowl.
3. Dice the fish and place in the large bowl.
4. Add the onion, tomato, green pepper, cucumber, cilantro and lime juice and habanero pepper mix well and refrigerate to “cook”. The fish will turn white as it “cooks”, which will take between 20-30 minutes. Do not let it sit longer.
5. Add the Habanero sauce to taste and enjoy!
Ceviche Recie by Ruben Guerra in San Pedro Town, Belize
Guest Photographer: Maris