"There must be something wild and wonderful in a country such as this, and we're the men to find out!" This quote from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World described the picturesque Central American nation so well that it inspired the naming of Belize's highest peak: Doyle's Delight. Belize is wedged between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast, and looks like a spectacularly beautiful place to visit. I discovered many amazing natural and cultural wonders while trolling through wikipedia for info, and while I don't want to sound like a lonely planet travel guide, I thought I would spruik a few of these here (hopefully my wife reads this and decides Belize should be high on the list of places to see).
One of the more famous of the many wonders found in Belize is the Great Blue Hole: a large underwater sinkhole in the centre of Lighthouse Reef off Belize City (it is very unoriginal how Central Americans name their cities). The hole has been described as one of the top ten diving sites in the world and looking at the picture below, it is easy to see why. It seems that one of the main attractions awaiting scuba divers in the Great Blue Hole is the plethora of sharks of varying species. YIKES!
Another natural wonder is the national bird of Belize. Of course I understand that bird watching isn't for everyone; hiding silently in a tree in your old scout uniform in search of the Great Tit (which just so happens to roost outside your neighbours bedroom window) is not how I would choose to spend my spare time. That said, I would gladly spend a day adventuring through the virgin jungle of Belize in search of the magnificent Keel-Billed Toucan.
Belize also boasts a rich cultural history, having once been part of the vast Mayan empire of Central and South America. The Caana temple in the Caracol ruins is still the tallest man-made structure in the country. According to the Maya (well the Hollywood interpretation at least) I have only until 2012 to complete my food odyssey, so I had best get a wriggle on.
With the colonisation of the Americas, Belize was first unsuccessfully settled by Spanish, and then by English and Scottish buccaneers known as Baymen, and eventually Belize was declared a colony of the British Empire.
It is this mixture of Pre-Columbian Maya culture, and the European influences from Britain and Spain that give Belize it's cuisine. I have tried to find and prepare a dish that represents both of these elements. Also, with the end of days looming I was strapped for time, so I wanted a dish that was fast, light, and easy. Of course no self respecting Caribbean resident would eat anything without beans in it, and this Belizian favourite, Garnache, ticked all the boxes.
Corn or flour tortilla (enough for 2 or 3 each)
Enough of the following fillings for the number of tortillas:
Queso fresco (I had to substitute for Ricotta)
Heat some re-fried beans in a sauce pot over low heat.
Grill both sides of the tortilla in an oiled pan until crispy and brown.
Spread the re-fried beans over the tortilla. Fill with cabbage, carrot, and cheese.
Season with salt and vinegar and serve with a wedge of lime.