Belize //

Food and drink

Belizean food is a mix of Latin American and Caribbean, with Creole flavours dominating the scene in local restaurants, but with a number of international options as well – Indian and Chinese are the most prevalent. The basis of any Creole main meal is rice and beans, and this features heavily in smaller restaurants, where most meals run Bz$8–12. The white rice and red beans are cooked together in coconut oil and usually served with stewed chicken or beef, or fried fish; there’s always a bottle of hot sauce on the table for extra spice. Seafood is almost always excellent. Red snapper or grouper is invariably fantastic, and you might also try a barracuda steak, conch fritters or a plate of fresh shrimp. In San Pedro, Caye Caulker, San Ignacio and Placencia the food can be exceptional, and the only concern is that you might get bored with lobster, which is served in a vast array of dishes. The closed season for lobster (when it should not be served) is from mid-February to mid-June.

Breakfast (Bz$6–10) is usually served from 7am to 10am and generally includes eggs and flour tortillas. The lunch hour (noon–1pm) is observed with almost religious devotion – you will not be able to get anything else done. Dinner is usually eaten quite early, between 6 and 8pm; few restaurants stay open much later.

Vegetables are scarce in Creole food, but there’s often a side dish of potato or coleslaw. There are few specifically vegetarian restaurants, but in touristy areas many places offer a couple of vegetarian dishes. Otherwise, you’re likely to be offered chicken or ham even if you say you don’t eat meat. Your best bet for a vegetarian meal outside the main tourist areas may well be one of Belize’s many Chinese restaurants.

Drink

The most basic drinks to accompany food are water, beer and the usual soft drinks. Tap water, in the towns at least, is safe but highly chlorinated, and many villages (though not Caye Caulker) have a potable water system. Many travellers nonetheless choose to purchase filtered bottled water, which is sold everywhere for around Bz$2 per bottle. Belikin, Belize’s main beer, comes in several varieties: regular, a lager-type bottled and draught beer; bottled stout; and Lighthouse and Premium, more expensive bottled brews. Cashew-nut and berry wines are bottled and sold in some villages, and you can also get hold of imported wine, though it’s not cheap. Local rum, in both dark and clear varieties, is the best deal in Belizean alcohol. The legal drinking age for alcohol in Belize is 18.

Fruit juices are widely available, with fresh orange, lime and pineapple being the most popular options. Coffee, except in the best establishments, will almost certainly be instant, though decent tea is quite prevalent. One last drink that deserves a mention is seaweed, a strange blend of seaweed, milk, cinnamon, sugar and cream.

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