It’s safe to say most Belizeans have an underlying bond through food, and yet, each has individual holiday experiences. The power of cooking is extraordinary – nothing says warm-heartedness like homemade food to bring us together. Cooking encourages the precious transference of culture from generation to generation, adding diversity to the melting pot we call home. Upon asking a few friends what food-related items and traditions defined a Belizean Christmas, majority shared a common line! Most of these recipes mentioned below can be found in The Flavors of Belize Cookbook:
- Naturally, the traditional turkey dinner cannot be had without stuffing to accompany the traditional rice and beans, potato salad, cranberry sauce, and onion sauce.
- The Christmas ham, skin scored with a sharp knife, decorates your home with notes of brown sugar, pineapple and cloves. Not only is a ham arguably the most important centerpiece a table can have, but it even to taste better the next day! A personal tradition is making ham sandwiches with local Creole bread and homemade onion sauce (Cortido, pg.109) on Christmas morning.
- Belizean Fruitcake dotted with festive green and red stained cherries was a favorite! Whether it was “black cake”, distinctively tinged with caramel coloring and wine, or the pristine “white cake” (pg.122), with hints of lemon essence and rum. A holiday custom in my household is eating a slice of ham atop a slice of white fruitcake – who knew? Rum Cake (pg. 121) and Rum Popo (pg.122) were also noted as being customary desserts of the season.
- Interestingly enough, Christmas time means different dishes in different districts of Belize. Bollos and Tamales (pg.62) with Chicharrón were linked to being the holiday treats of Cayo and Orange Walk, with Black Relleno (pg.36) tied to Corozal.
What are some of your fond holiday memories or traditions? Regardless of wherever your palate takes you this Christmas, I hope your day is surrounded with love, laughter, and good food! Happy Holidays from Flavors of Belize!