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This is the first post in a series from a trip from which I just returned.  For the past 10 days I have been travelling throughout Belize, exploring indigenous perspectives on food security and health (which explains my gourm(eh)? absence in the past few weeks as I challenged myself not to check the internet while away).  I’m not quite ready to write about my impressions as they’re still stewing away in my mind – and I’m sure it will become apparent how it changed many things for me in the next little while.

I learned to make this soup (which is eaten with tortillas, which will be posted soon) with Rosa, a mother in the Mayan village of Laguna in the Toledo district of Belize.  This is the traditional soup of the Mayan people, which they eat somewhat regularly, often for special occasions but not always only special occasions.  Thank you Rosa for sharing this with me.

Mayan Caldo - Traditional Chicken Soup made in Laguna, Belize.  Thank you Rosa for sharing your recipe with me.

Mayan Caldo – Traditional Chicken Soup

(6 servings)

Ingredients (adapted to those that can be found outside of the Belizian Jungle)

-2 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
-1 lb summer squash (Choco is the actual ingredient – I think summer squash would work as an approximation) cut into chunks
-3 ripe plantain, cut in half and then quarters (lengthwise)
-1/2 a head garlic, mashed
-1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
-1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (Kolantro, which is similar to cilantro, is the original ingredient)
-1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
– (1/4 cup Tep leaves, chopped – I have no idea what this was – it smelled somewhat like bergamot)
-2 tsp Annato paste (this is a red pigment made from the Annato plant – apparently it can be found in Latin American/Brazilian stores)
-12 cups water
-Salt, to taste

Directions

Put water into a large soup pot, and drop the washed chicken pieces into it as well as the salt.  Bring to a boil.  Once water is boiling, add the vegetables and then the herbs, then the Annato, but not the plantain.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.  Then add the plantain and cook for a remaining 10 minutes.  This soup is accompanied by corn tortillas.

-Sitelle

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