Belize! My first central american country! Belize associates itself more with the Caribbean then with the Latin American Culture. Nowadays most of Belize is Christian it hasn’t always been like that! They used be a part of great ancient Mayan culture!
Belizeans like to scare their children! I found at least 3 “monsters” the adults try to scare there children with ancient legends and old stories! Let me give you a summary of the scariest things that can happen to Belizean kids.
- El Duende: El Duende is an evil thumbless dwarf who hangs out in the forest and punishes children who kill animals (I never used to kill animals as a kid, but hey every kid is different!)
- El Sisimito: A version of Big Foot/ Sasquatch but without knees and it’s feet backwards oh yeah I forgot to mention he eats human flesh especially naughty children!
- Fish: Many Belizeans avoid swimming in the ocean or rivers on Good Friday; it is viewed as bad luck. Local Mothers can often be heard telling their kids “YOU WILL TURN INTO FISH!” if they swim on this day.
- Xtabai: The Xtabai might look gorgeous, but don’t be charmed by her striking good looks. This mythical, malicious creature preys on Belizean men. She lures them back to her Ceiba tree home, where they meet a grisly end. (Sounds an awful lot like a excuse that men came up with, when cheating on their wives)
Here are some other really cool facts about Belize:
- Belize is one of the best places in the world for shark viewing. The best times to go are during the months of April – July.
- The locals in Belize have created some unique names for its natural wonders including Owl eye butterfly, the Swallow Tail Cattle Heart Butterfly, and the Red Footed Booby Bird, and the False Vampire Bat
- Outside the Belize mainland is one of the world’s natural reefs known as the Belize natural reefs with 200 separate islands. (Sounds like paradise to me!)
So here we go a Belizean recipe! This week I made oxtail stew! Every Monday I eat with a group of friends, every week it’s at someone else’s place this week it was at mine! I bought WAY to much oxtail seriously it was ridiculous, but when the butcher came out with that much meat I couldn’t just simply give it back so I cooked food 10 people instead of 7. I froze my leftovers so next week it will be oxtail week! I don’t mind because it was delicious! Seriously amazing! It takes you a while but you’ll be ecstatic with the result!
WARNING THIS RECIPE IS FOR 10 PEOPLE!
Ingredients: 3,5kg of oxtail, 2 onions, 4 cloves of garlic, vegetable oil, 8 potatoes, 1 yellow chili pepper, 2 red chili peppers, 2 carrots, soy sauce (to taste), salt to tast, black pepper to tast, 4 stalks of celery, 5 scallions, sprigs of thyme (to taste), water, tomato paste (to taste), brown sugar (to taste), 2 red, 1 yellow and 1 green bell pepper.
Wash and dry the pieces of oxtail (ask your butcher to cut them into pieces for you as the bones can be very HARD), then heat the oil in a deep pan on med/high heat and brown the pieces of oxtail. Takes about 10 minutes or so. Remove the now browned pieces of oxtail from the pot, turn the heat down to low and add the onion, garlic and celery (diced) and allow to cook gently for 3 minutes. Then add the pimento berries and black pepper and give it a good stir, followed by the tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to cook for a minute or so to allow the natural sugars in the tomato to caramelize a bit. The tomato paste will add a lovely acidic twist to the dish. Add the pieces of oxtail back to the pot and all the other ingredients except the carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let it cook with the lid on for about 2 hours.Remember to stir every 20 minutes. The all spice (pimento berries) will add a lovely warm and homey taste to this dish. If you find that your oxtail is not tender after the 2 hrs of braising, add a bit more water and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so. Then add the chopped carrots, potatoes and bell peppers (try to leave the potato in big pieces so it does not dissolve when cooked), bring to a boil (turn up the heat), then reduce to a rolling boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the potato and carrot are tender. I served it with rice but you can just eat it by itself of course!