Turns out my favorite Belizean food is traditional Salvadorian food. You see, I have recently discovered the magic of The Pupusa. It took me a while to conquer the pronunciation but the gastronomical lovefest was instantaneous. More on that in a moment. First things first…
I may have already mentioned that we stayed at the Victoria House in Belize which was luxurious and decadent. While we never made it to the formal dining room for a proper dinner, we had a few happy hours that bled right into dinner at the bar which offered a gorgeous view of the pier. Lobster ceviche, grouper ceviche, and pork tacos were highlights, not to mention an array of frozen fruity drinks – for Vitamin C of course.
We did enjoy the gorgeous, bright dining room at breakfast each morning.
During one post-fishing Victoria House happy hour on the beach I managed to coerce my husband into a couple self portrait. I have my undeniable charm (read: the liquor in his coconut mojito) to thank for this, the only picture of the two of us from our entire vacation.
The reason we never made it to dinner in the Victoria House dining room is because it’s just too much damn fun to ride into town in the golf cart and find more authentic, non-resort cuisine. I have to say, we knocked the food out of the park on this trip. We skipped the too-too tourista spots and really got down and dirty with some local gems.
We stumbled on a spot called Wild Mango’s that we later learned from a couple at the hotel was a favorite with ex-pat friends who live full time in Belize. I didn’t take one picture at Wild Mango’s so I had to nab a few off the web to share with you. This was the very sign that lured us in.
We had fresh, crispy pork taquitos that we loved. The Professor had snapper with coconut rice that I tasted but I was really too full from the vat of mango-banana fruit smoothie that I’d already polished off. And we had these divine empanadas with creamy avocado sauce. (Picture from Tripadvisor)
I love this picture below of Wild Mango’s (we ate outside on the funky deck right by that railing) and must give credit to the blog where I found it: Bear & Em In Belize. Again, these are some more expats who have setup life in Belize and have wonderful posts about life and food on the island of Ambergris Caye.
The California couple that we liked so much at our hotel also told us about their local friends’ favorite foodie recommendation: El Fogon, a real-deal dive restaurant with a dirt floor that is located right by the airstrip behind the Tropic Air airport in downtown San Pedro. Say no more, sounds right up out alley.
The menu is a simple 3-course dinner. You can choose between two appetizers (we tried both and preferred the fish balls) and you can choose your entree. Dessert is chef’s pick of the nite.
I had heard the chicken was out of sight but when the local fisherman walked in to deliver fresh-caught grouper I had to go with the grouper, hello? I did confirm with our jovial water that I was getting this actual grouper that just came in the door. There’s my dinner right there:
We love love loved El Fogon. In fact, we loved it so much we ordered a 3rd entree to go which we shared on the boat the next day in lieu of the same ole same ole boxed lunches. A fairly good idea, although in retrospect, rice is not the best option to try and eat in howling wind. Sorry about the mess on the deck of your beautiful Ponga, George.
Which brings me to my absolute favorite dish of the trip: Pupusas. We stumbled on a few of these Pupuserias with women hand-making these delectable treats right on the street and slapping them on the griddle. I was drawn to the hot pink pupuseria that I think is called El Salvadoren. Apparently the pupusa is a Salvadorian dish?
I loved it so much that we dined there not once, but twice. The pupusa is two puffy, doughy corn tortillas stuffed with a variety of fillings: shredded pork, chicken, lobster, beans, cheese, etc. I liked the pork/bean/cheese “mixed” pupusas the best. Fluffy little corny pockets of heaven.
Then, you top the pupusa with fresh slaw and hot sauce. Chase with a Belikin beer.
THEY ARE SO GOOD!
As most of you know my philosophy in life is if a little bit is good then more is better. And as usual, this approach made me thoroughly ill. Needless to say, fearing I would never be able to find a pupusa trailer back in Austin, I had a few too many pupusas on the last night of our trip. Groan.
Still working those off.
So that’s my food report from our Belize trip. It was fun to get out and about and dig in to some local cuisine. The last time I went to Belize we ate well, but we ate at the house everyday (because it was cooked for us!) You may recall my 2011 post on the Belizean key lime pie that we loved so much that we ate it for breakfast: Shut Your Key Lime Pie Hole. I have made that authentic Belizean recipe so many times since last year and choose to ignore the fact that it is oddly similar to one that Paula Dean has on her show.
So do you think it would be well received if I show up at Thanksgiving with pupusas & key lime pie? Do these Salvadorian women have panache or what? Think I too can make pupusas with such style? So many questions. Just enjoy this pupusa music video (click image below) and let it inspire you to get in the kitchen and start cooking that Thanksgiving feast!
(Copyright 2012 by Christine Warren)
I like comments almost as much as pupusas. Talk to me. Are you inspired now to do Belizean (Salvadorian) food for Thanksgiving or are you sticking with a traditional lineup?