Couldn’t get away for Spring Break? Bring the Caribbean to your Kitchen.

Reposting an article that appeared in the Chicago Reader a few years back. Some friends just left for spring break, and I am a bit bummed that I’m not with them. So what’s one to do? Make hudut baruru. And invite all your other friends who are not on spring break over. Add a few Garifuna jams, maybe even a drum or two. With Garifuna Flava in town to show us how it’s done, it’s good to remember: Chicago definitely has its own sunny perks, too.

A Caribbean Rarity: In Marquette Park at Chicago’s only Garifuna restaurant, Garifuna Flava

By @MikeSula

 Yolanda Castillo with falumou

When Yolanda Castillo was a little girl in Belize, she learned to make hudut baruru by laboriously pounding green and ripened boiled plantains in a deep, carved wooden mortar with a long wooden pestle.

Hudut is an elemental food of the Garifuna, an Amerindian-African people who these days mostly live in Honduras and Belize. The compressed, mashed-up fruit, frequently served as an accompaniment to fish and meat stews, is a descendant of the starchy West African staple known as fufu. In fact, its ubiquity among the Garifuna can be traced back to a pair of Spanish slave ships that wrecked off the coast of Saint Vincent in the Lesser Antilles in 1635. Continue reading

In Belize City, we dine…rain or shine!

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While in Belize City, we had the opportunity to work with our project partner, Indira Bartley.  Indira started the Regina Martinez Foundation in Belize City to honor her mother’s lifelong activism, and works to transform the lives of the unemployed women in her community.  Indira introduced us to the women who will be profiled in our cookbook, and then graciously offered to host a potluck at her home!  Continue reading

Taste the Flava!

We recently made a visit to Garifuna Flava, a family-owned Belizean restaurant located in Chicago’s Southwest side.  If you haven’t been here yet, you’re missing out on some delicious and authentic Caribbean cuisine prepared with lots of love by Yolanda, co-owner of the restaurant along with her husband, Rhodel.  Together, with their son, Hussein, this family makes the unique Caribbean, Latin and indigenous Garifuna flavors come alive in dishes like Conch Soup, Belizean Stew Chicken, and Panades.

See Garifuna Flava featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives.

Belizean stew chicken - yum!

Belizean stew chicken – yum!

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Making Belizean Tamales with Doña Lilia

Unlike the Mexican tamales most residents of the U.S. are familiar with, Belizean tamales usually much bigger, wrapped in a banana leaf instead of a corn husk, and almost always contain chicken with the bone in. Every household makes their tamales a bit differently, and we had the privilege of watching Doña Lilia, a lifelong resident of Progresso, make hers.

The chicken is well-seasoned with red recado, a typical Belizean spice blend, and enveloped in a yellow masa dough made from ground corn. The process is slow, but worth it. A whole chicken leg (or wing, or foot) is rolled into dough with sauce and wrapped up with the banana leaf into a tight square. Continue reading

You’ve Got to See It to Belize It

We hopped a short flight to Belize and found our way to Progresso, a small village in the district of Corozal. Progresso has little more than 1,000 people – my high school alone had more than three times that – and so I was pretty jazzed to get a taste of small town life.

Progresso’s gravel roads are lined with trees, grasses and the occasional stray cow. There’s one restaurant and general store, and roosters seem to outnumber people. All the kids swim in the lagoon and share the water peacefully with a contingent of crocodiles.

A rainy day in Progresso, Belize.

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