Belize Heritage at Home Series No. 5
Written by: Linette Sabido
This article is a continuation of With Food, Heritage Begins at Home and explores how the concept of sharing a plate of food has taken a different meaning during the times of COVID-19. “Like, share, repost”, as we hear these terms, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and recently, TikTok come to mind. Social media platforms allow for the sharing of content virtually with family, friends, and even strangers through posting content such as photos, videos and text. While some might argue that there are sometimes unwanted risks to sharing one’s ideas, and life snapshots through these public platforms, there has also been an undeniably integral role that these platforms have played in keeping us socially connected while maintaining physical distance in the era of COVID-19. Perhaps the most popular form of heritage that was seen across all platforms pertained to sharing of culinary or food heritage. The lockdown and restrictions imposed by COVID-19, highlighted the creativity of Belizeans locally and abroad as we found new ways to “Share a Plate of Food”.
Sharing A Plate During Covid-19
As Nigel Encalada, highlighted in his article Culture in the Time of Covid: A View from the Caribbean , the Covid-19 pandemic imposed drastic changes to the way we as Belizeans socialize. With social distancing regulations and curfews in place, we no longer had the freedom to move as we normally would. We were no longer able to meet with friends and share the latest at a restaurant or take a plate of extra food over to a neighbor. But, social distancing was not going to stop us from continuing to share our food and culture. Social media platforms allowed us to remain connected at a time when we physically couldn’t.
Like, Share and Repost
Prior to COVID-19, there has been a surge in the promotion of Belize’s culinary heritage. In fact, our Belizean cuisine in all its different flavors has become a key part of the cultural and heritage tourism industry. In recent years, Belizean broadcasting channels have included cooking segments in their shows such as Great Belize Cooking – a collaboration between Great Belize Productions and popular Belizean Chef, Sean Kuylen. Through the show and his Instagram page, Chef Kuylen has actively promoted cultural heritage by highlighting the different cultural foods and ingredients used within communities throughout the country of Belize. The show takes you to all corners of Belize and highlights the traditional ways of Belizean cooking. You can travel to Xaibe Village in Corozal and learn how to make the popular Black Recado or travel to Dangriga and learn how to make Cassava Bread. As the show is described, Chef Sean Kuylen adds his own twist.
“Gourmet recipes using traditional ingredients in non-traditional ways.”
Belize’s culinary heritage has not only been prominent in television, but is becoming more popular through other platforms such as YouTube. The Bare Pantry Show which promotes “authentic Belizean dishes, other simple dishes, and cooking made simple” is another popular source to turn to for Belizean recipes. With a large following of approximately 81,000 followers, the Bare Pantry Show has been highlighting Belizean cooking not only locally, but internationally as well.
Although cooking programs such as Great Belize Cooking and The Bare Pantry Show have been around prior to Covid-19, they became essential in not only promoting but remaining connected to one’s Belizean heritage through food. With additional time on their hands during the national lockdown, Belizeans were motivated to try recipes they had been wanting to for a long time. With everyone at home they made family meals and sat down and enjoyed family dinners. They also got creative and added their own personal take on traditional dishes and family recipes.
We were no longer able to take an extra plate of food over to our neighbor, host house parties, or have friends over for dinner, but we found new means of sharing our plate of food and remaining connected by posting on social media platforms. We checked in to see what our friends and co-workers were having for lunch at their homes or swapped recipes and tips. Many Belizeans proudly shared their food on Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok. ISCR shared a Fry Jack recipe on our Instagram (@iscr.nich) from the Young Women Christian Association (Y.W.C.A) Belize and it was greatly received. Many began requesting for more recipes this reflects the interest in people to try their local dishes.
There was also an increase in activity in online communities around Belizean food and cooking. There are several pages on Facebook such as Belizean Recipes, Belizean Cooking & Recipes, Recipes with a Belizean Flavor, Belize Recipes, The Belizean Plate, Belizean Food with Friends, to mention a few, where you find Belizeans sharing daily their recipes or food.
These platforms have shown to not only serve as means of inspiration but as a space to share our culinary heritage with others, and to remain connected in times of social distancing.
Drop in the comment section below how you share a plate of food virtually or where do you turn to for recipes.
Next time you post, don’t forget to hashtag:
About the author: Linette Sabido is a Research and Education Officer with the Institute for Social and Cultural Research, ISCR-NICH. One of her primary responsibilities includes coordinating the implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the community level.
Photos: Courtesy of the Institute for Social and Cultural Research / NICH, Y.W.C.A. Belize, Great Belize Cooking, The Bare Pantry Show.