Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Belize

Background: Guatemala refused to recognize Belize until 1992, and the two have continuing border disputes
Location: Between Guatemala and Mexico, bordering the Caribbean
Area: Almost 23,000 sq km; 151st in the world
         Slightly smaller than Massachusetts
Note: Only Central American nation with no coastline on the North Pacific Ocean
Population: Over 320,000; 176th in the world
Capital: Belmopan
Health: High risk of major infectious diseases
Public Debt: 80% of GDP; 17th in the world
Language: Only Central American country with English as the official language
Cuisine: Basic ingredients are rice and beans.  Sometimes armadillo meat!

Yes, yes, I know, I did not write last week.  Filet mignon on sale and then a spring cleaning marathon got in the way.  Plus, I never promised!  Nuh-uh!  Anyway...

It was pretty easy to establish that Belize's national dish was Rice and Beans.  Some places said R&B plus this, or R&B plus that, but the basis was evident.  That's not a full plan though, right?  So I had to look for some others.  There wasn't a ton of consistency in the sites, but I finally found some that were mentioned in multiple places.  Unfortunately, the mentions didn't always come with recipes...

Most of what was on this site was vague, but they had a Rice and Beans recipe, so I picked that one.  This one seemed to be one of the more authentic versions I could find, plus there were pictures.  And finally I found this one.  YES.  I KNOW.  There is no reason to believe this recipe is the most authentic.  But it was similar to the other descriptions I found and I wanted something without ambiguity.  Don't judge me.  Plus, I totally didn't take their brand recommendations.

There needed to be a lot of coordinating in this meal, because there were things that needed to happen for FOUR HOURS.  Plus, we had people coming over to watch the Final Four, which meant I really needed to be with it.  So I made a plan.  Hello, my name is Danielle and I have been a Project Manager since July 2008.

I started by giving the basic steps for each recipe.  Indented means that it is not dependent on the above step.

And yes, I did this part in OneNote.  Then I combined them all to create a super-plan.  Now pulling in Excel.
Now you have a look inside my head.  It's a bit scary.

So, let's start with some bean soaking!
Is there anything more interesting than wrinkly beans?
Cabbage is not something that I have really worked with before.  Not that I avoid it, it just isn't something I would normally purchase.  The color makes for some fantastic photos though.
Love.
At first I thought it was weird that the shredding blade stayed on the top of the food processor, but then it all made sense.
Purple!  The cabbage was super-easy to work with and came right out of the equipment with just some light rinsing.  Now that is something I can get behind.
Carrots imitating Playdough.
Belize must be very colorful.
Then I had to halve a chicken.  No big deal, right? I even found a website to help.  What it doesn't mention is the fact that chickens have organs.  And they are still in there.  That part is conveniently left out.
Whole Chicken
Backbone.  I almost saved it to make some chicken stock, but wasn't feeling it at the time.
ORGANS.  That I had to remove.  By hand.
Cleaned up.  I almost made Kevin come look, but I didn't.  That makes me a good person, right?
Now that I've had fully new experiences, I can check against my list.  Everything is all printed out and I am constantly updating.  Oh, and I halved the beans and the tortilla recipes, so I took notes there too.


Now, there is a line in the chicken recipes that says "Whole Spice Seeds."  I do not know what these are.  The internet did not know what these are, which pretty much means they don't exist.  Instead I just used what I had fresh on hand: parsley and rosemary.  They're almost like seeds, right?
It started smelling really delicious at this point.
Beans, boiling away.  And yes, of course I put some bacon in.
Tower o'onions!  After this picture, it fell over and one of them went between the fridge and the counter.  Oops.
We have been having some problems with Tesla lately.  And by lately I mean always.  He is very aggressive.  He bites, scratches, and attacks.  He ambushes.  He has way too much energy.  There was really only one solution.

No, he is not on the menu.
Meet Curie Maybelline.  Who would NOT stay still for a picture.
She was named Maybelline because she has beautiful markings that look like natural eyeliner.  She did not want to show these to the internet.  But that did not fit into our scheme.  Of nerdiness.

So far, they haven't been getting along too well.  But we are making progress.
Standoff.  Tesla keeps trying to play and she will have none of it.
Old timey standoff.
Tesla is very sad that she won't play.
It was a fairly nice day, so Kevin took advantage.  He also helped later, mostly in entertaining guests while I was running around.
New porch furniture = wonderful.
Back to cooking.

There was a ton of stuff going on.  A ton.
So many pots and pans.
And then a stretch of nothing.  So I sat down for a bit.  Shame on me.  I caused a casualty.
Apparently the beans ran out of water...The recipe never told me to put in more.  I did at one point, but apparently not enough...
I was much less broken up than I normally would have been.  I don't like failure.  But there was so much else to think about that I kinda just looked at it and moved on.  I was excited to try it, though.  Oh well, must keep going.
At this point, the chicken is all cooked and removed and this is what is left.  It still smells really amazing.
Mmm, deep fried corn tortillas.  This was pretty fun to do.
Caution, the end of this recipe involves ingredients that aren't listed in the ingredients part.  Luckily I had them all.  I put on a lot of seasoned salt.
Squishing the beans was fun!
The weirdest part of this was for sure the vinegar.  The recipe says add a cup of vinegar, taste, and edit from there.  I tasted and felt like I had just licked a lemon.  Dipped in gross.  It was super-sour for me.  So I added a cup of water, but it still seemed strange.  I've never particularly desired sour soup before.

All that remained was adding the onions, broiling the chicken, and assembling the garnaches.  And I thought I could handle another one of top of this...
In Belize, these are often sold by street vendors.
I believe I may have bought all of the onions in the store for this recipe.
For us to all sit on the table, we had to set the food on the island.
John (Jon?), Kevin, and Rachel.  The assortment of college sweatshirts is nice.
There is a lot to evaluate here, so bear with me.

Garnaches: I really liked these.  Again, not normally a big cabbage person.  I felt like it was a nice combination, though.  Veggies combined with deep frying and cream cheese.  I can get behind this.  Kevin also really liked it.  In fact, I kept the other half of the kidney beans can so I can make it again.  Not good leftovers, though, as they get soggy.

Rice and beans: Wah-wahhhhh.

Chicken:  I really liked the chicken a lot.  The skin was nice and flavorful, and that permeated to the meat itself.  Both the dark and the light got some nice spice, and were wonderfully juicy.  It made for good leftovers too.  Kevin also said the he liked this.  I highly recommend.

Soup:  Holy sour, Batman.  I couldn't eat much of this.  I think adding the onions just made it worse.  I did NOT finish my bowl.  However, John really liked it.  Took second helpings.  He even took the leftovers.  Whether that was because he really wanted them or because we forced him to, I'm not sure.  But I think this was fully a personal taste thing.  I also think it could have been salvaged with no, or very little, vinegar.

Note:  Don't rub your eyes after making this dish.  I had to excuse myself for a while and considered not going back out.  Taking out my contact just made it worse.  For the first time ever, I wished I had an eye-washer from chemistry labs.  It was bad.  And it sunk into your pores.  I rubbed my eye the next day and it still burnt.  There was a lot of scrubbing needed.

Also note: if you come visit me, you may get leftovers.  Let this be an incentive.

Parting message:
Dishes the next day.  This meal pretty much used every one we had.
Last time: Belgium
Next time: Benin

2 comments:

  1. Different vinegars have different acidity levels, so it's possible it wasn't meant to be that sour. A cup of any vinegar seems pretty strong, though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Holy organization, Danielle.

    I can not handle dealing with whole animals in the kitchen, so I am super impressed that you did that. Also a little grossed out by the pictures. :P

    ReplyDelete