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Sep 18, 2006

New book looks at food in Belizean life

Story PictureFood may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of nationalism … but in a lively and well researched book, a long-time observer of Belizean life makes a powerful case that, in many way, we are what we eat. News Five’s Kendra Griffith has the story.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
From the first time American Richard Wilk stepped foot in Belize in 1973 he has been fascinated not only with Creole bread but the entire range of Belizean cuisine.

Richard Wilk, Author
?When I asked people for local food they couldn?t point me in any direction, because people didn?t really have an idea of what Belizean food was in those days. I have been looking for it ever since.?

What Wilk found, he put in the publication ?Home Cooking in the Global Village? … which was launched today by co-publisher Angelus Press. The book is a blend of history, recipes, and poetry.

Richard Wilk
?The book covers the history of food in Belize from about the arrival of the Baymen in the middle of the seventeenth century right up to today. The episodes that I found really interesting were in the early years of independence, the independence movement and the P.U.P. and N.I.P., at the time George Price tried to bring up talking about Belizean food as part of independence and nobody really wanted to hear about it. And it isn?t until the incident of the royal rat in 1984 that people in Belize really started to take some pride in the local foods.?

Wilk now wants Belizeans to take that pride to the next level.

Richard Wilk
?Served the right way?I have never eaten anything in a French restaurant that I would put up against a good ducunu. That is, it?s fine food and it needs to be marketed and sold exactly as that, as something as precious as anything else that Belize produces. I think in the area of food at least this jewel could shine better and it could be a strategy that brings a lot more money and a lot more rewards into the country.?

And there is no time like the present for Belize to break into this new niche.

Richard Wilk
?I think people are now starting to recognise that tourists are visitors are actually interested in tasting things that are a bit off the beaten track. There is this kind of culinary tourism that is growing up now and growing really fast, where people travel around the world basically to eat things they can?t eat at home and to learn how to cook. They go to cooking schools and classes all over and I?d like to see some of that develop here in Belize because the raw materials are here.?

And after sampling countless meals around the country … what?s Wilk?s favourite Belizean fare?

Richard Wilk
?That?s a tough one, I think sweat rice and hicatee, which is something they used to serve at Easter in a lot of the villages out around Crooked Tree and Lemonal and back there, but it?s hard to find now.?

Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

You can try out the Creole Bread and many of the other recipes in Home Cooking in the Global Village. The book is available for forty-five dollars at major outlets. When he’s not eating, Wilk is a Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Indiana University. The poetry at the beginning and end of the story, by the way, was written by Glory Hernandez and performed by Denise Neal.


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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