Every culture has their own snack or fast foods that are very popular to inhabitants of that country. For Belizeans, some of these favorites are salbutes, garnaches, and my favorite…panades.
Being raised in a Belizean household, my parents often prepared dishes that have rice and beans, chicken, beef, pork or fish. But sometimes preparing these meals was labor intensive. Even more so if you were hosting a party for more people than your immediate family. This is where these snack foods effectively serve their purpose. Tasty for appetizers at a party, or just as a snack, they were filling and didn’t require a whole lot of prep work from the host.
Garnaches, for example, are simple to make because you are just stacking the ingredients. When you take a corn tortilla, spread it with black or refried beans, add cheese, and then garnished it with cortido (a cabbage, onions, carrots mixture similar to sauerkraut), you end up with a delicious salty, spicy, and satisfying snack. In less than an hour you can make about a dozen of these!
Similar to garnaches, is salbutes. Even though this wonderful treat is enjoyed across the country of Belize, it’s a dish that has its origin with individuals that were of mixed race or ethnic ancestry called Mestizo. With salbutes, it’s common that the tortillas are handmade, but rather than beans, cheese, and cortido that you would put on the garnaches, you would stack stewed chicken, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickled onions, and a spicy sauce. I love that you can have it as spicy as you want, and Belizeans love habanero.
Now we come to my favorite… panades. Invite a Belize over for a card party, some drinks or just to hang out, and you’ll make a new friend. Tell them that you’re making panades, and you’ll have a friend for life. Similar to an empanada, panades are basically corn tortillas that are folded over with various types of fillings like smoked fish, beans, or cheese. They are then fried, but best in a cast iron skillet. No matter what fillings you choose though, you can’t forget the cortido garnish. The same cortido you would make for the garnaches, can be the same you use to garnish your panades. I prefer my cortido without carrots, but always prepare it how you’d like.
Young and old alike will enjoy these appetizing snacks. You will find that introducing it to friends that are not familiar with food from Belize will be excited about the preparation process, and rave about the flavors. Making these Belizean snack foods is also a great opportunity to get friends to eat together and having your party become a huge success.