It’s in the double digits below zero in Minnesota these days, and that has me dreaming about last March, when BackpackMr and I journeyed to Belize.
On the recommendation of a dear friend, we headed to Caye Caulker, a small Caribbean island we knew little about, but a destination she promised would be laid back. Like, no car traffic laid back. Like, walk barefoot down main street laid back. Like, hang in a hammock all day laid back.
We were so up for it.
In an effort to provide gratuitous eye candy for the suffering souls of the Upper Midwest this week, I’m serving up a few photos before getting to the story.
When traveling, BackpackMr and I love finding a local place with good food where we can become short-term “regulars.” Doing so allows us to get to know locals on a deeper level, and often gives us a picture into their everyday lives. The result: we gain new friends.
On our first morning on Caye Caulker, I ventured out into the blissfully warm sun in search of coffee. I found the perfect spot for us to park ourselves every morning, at Reggae Cafe. Our favorite table had benches suspended from the ceiling, so we could swing in our happy little treehouse.
We got to know the staff and the owners pretty well. So when I was unable to find any cooking classes on Caye Caulker, I asked our friends at Reggae Cafe if their chef, Marlen, would be willing to teach me a couple of traditional Belizean dishes.
Used to working solo in the kitchen and cranking out delicious food from behind the scenes, Mar was unsure if she was up to the task. With some gentle prodding, she agreed. She decided to teach me how to prepare traditional Belizean stewed chicken and beans and rice.
She took me to the market first, to buy supplies for our cooking class.
Of course, Mar needed no recipe to prepare the dish. And the notes I scrawled that day are sadly insufficient to relay it to you. I can say the recipes on this blog are fancier and have more ingredients than we used in our Belizean stewed chicken and beans and rice, but if you want to give them try the flavors would be similar.
I can also tell you that it was amazing to learn from Mar, to watch her effortlessness in the kitchen, and to hear about her life on Caye Caulker.
The food was delicious. And though I only dimly recall the particulars of the recipes, the time we spent together was unforgettable.
I will savor the memory for years to come…even when it’s not -10.
Charish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to her clients.
Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb
Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.