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Jun 23, 1999

Which meat pie is the best in Belize?

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You won’t find them on the menu of most restaurants, but Belizean meat pies are not only a quick snack, but can make up a whole meal. But whether you buy them everyday, make them your Saturday lunch or pack them up to send to relatives abroad, chances are you prefer one type of meat pie over the other. This week Janelle Chanona found herself in the meat pie district of the city: Hyde’s Lane, New Road and Barrack Road where she tried to find out which pie is King.

Q: “How many meat pies do you eat a day?”

Student #1

“About four.”

Q: “Four? Everyday?”

Student #1

“Yes.”

Q: “Have you ever tried Pou’s meat pie?”

Student #2

“Yes.”

Q: “That nicer than this?”

Student #2

“Well to me, I eat it cause it is nice sometimes.”

Q: “Pou?”

Student #2

“Yeah. And I like this one because sometimes this one hotter and burner and I like when it’s hot and burn.”

Student #3

“Ummm…tastes so good.”

Q: “You like it better than this one?”

Student #4

“I like it.”

Q: “Yeah?”

Student #4

“I like it better than Dario’s. My aunt says she doesn’t like it because it’s got too much spices.”

Q: “Which one? Pou?”

Student #4

“Yeah!”

Student #5

“It doesn’t have too much spices; it’s alright.”

While the debate over who makes the best meat pie in Belize continues daily in the schoolyards, those who make the pies feel each company’s product is unique. The secret seems to be in the spices. Dario Hernandez has been making meat pies for over 15 years.

Dario Hernandez Sr., Owner, Dario’s Meat Pies

“I can only tell you that I use a lot of different spices and so, you know to make it, to get the taste that I wanted. I believe it’s actually the taste right. People find the taste much more palatable to what they like than the others because people look and they have a lot of people that could taste the pie and as they taste the pie they could tell you, “This is not Dario’s meat pie”. And they have other people who already get to know the difference between the pies, and say, woo this is not it!”

According to Nolberto Vasquez, the owner of Beto’s Meat Pies, there is no secret to success, it’s all a matter of taste.

Nolberto Vasquez, Owner, Beto’s Meat Pies

“Meat pie is no secret any more. Those boys make the meat the way how they chose to make the meat. You like your meat with a lot of pepper and a lot of seasonings, you fix your meat your way. Basically that’s what meat pie is all about.”

But no matter what they use for seasoning the three meat pie companies, Dario’s, Pou’s and Beto’s get an early start every day, beginning at 2 am.

Beto’s Meat Pies has only been in business for a little over a year and employs ten people, mostly women. Each day the young businessman sells about 1,000 meat pies. However, his customers are mostly school children and come summer, his production will drop by as much as 50 percent. Dario Hernandez, who has been selling pies for fifteen years and has a staff of 36, agrees sales will drop in the summer but as an established company, he will have other markets to rely on.

Dario Hernandez Sr.

“Well we make a little more than three thousand a day, definitely, everyday. Well, yes when school closes it drops maybe 25 – 30 percent, depends on the, you know, public. About 50 or 60 different places cause we sell to all the supermarkets, all the –in Belize. We sell to all the gas stations, the supermarkets and everything and we have a couple of vendors also.”

Hernandez supplies customers in Belmopan, San Pedro, Caye Caulker and even as far north as Escuela Mexico in Corozal. Despite his extended reach, Dario’s main competitor in Belize City is Arthur Pou whose shop is just around the corner on New Road.

Janelle Chanona

“Although Mr. Pou declined to speak with us, his faithful customers were more than willing to speak for him.”

Q: “Which meat pie is the best in Belize?”

Falette Flowers, Daily Consumer

“Pou meat pie.”

Q: “Would you say you buy from here everyday?”

Falette Flowers

“Yeah.”

Q: “About how many a day?”

Falette Flowers

“About ten dollars worth everyday.”

Q: “Have you ever tasted the other meat pies?”

Falette Flowers

“Sometimes I try Dario’s.”

Q: “And what do you think about that one?”

Falette Flowers

“Well that’s okay too but I prefer Pou’s.”

But whichever pie you prefer, there’s no denying that there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat a steaming hot meat pie. We managed to convince a couple of people to show us how they eat theirs.

Jaime Vivas, Student, Calvary Temple

“Well I eat it like this. I pick piece by piece.”

Dario Hernandez

“Mostly I see how you eat it. You take off the top and you start eat it till you get it to the coolness you want. Or you break off the top and you start that way.

The only way it will burn you is if you come out and take a hot meat pie, and you notice our signs always say hot meat pies, and as you take it and put it in your mouth it will definitely burn you. It start to make heat go in your mouth.”

Q: “Yeah?”

Dario Hernandez

“Feel like hmmm, like your mouth will come out.”

For those of you who’ve been the victim of burned mouth syndrome, we visited Dr. Adrian Heusner for some pain killing remedies.

Dr. Adrian Heusner, Dentist

“Okay, what you have when you eat something really hot? I have never encountered the meat pie thing, you know, but it’s usually coffee or I’ve heard of pizza and we call it a palate burn.

So my advice would be, now, if you burn your mouth, just get rid of the source of the irritation, which in this case would be the meat pie and just drink some cold water and you’re just going to have to wait until the irritation goes away.”

Janelle Chanona

“While I’ll be sure to take the dentist’s advice in the future, right now I think a lot more testing needs to be done before I decide which pie is the best. (takes a bite) Janelle Chanona for News Five.”

News Five would like to thank Beto’s, Dario’s and Pou’s for all the delicious free samples they provided for this story.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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