“What would you like to drink sweetheart?”
“I want nachral joose Mama.”
“A what? What did you say?”
Did my five-year-old just ask for natural juice in Kriol? How did this happen? Four weeks in Belize and she is speaking the local tongue with ease.
Ava said, “Laim joose.” Lime juice with a shot of perfect inflection.
I smiled at her with the surprised pride, when you feel both humbled and in awe of your offspring.
The girls have loved the juices and drinks in Belize – from freshly squeezed fruits, to the infamous Red Fanta that tastes perfect on a kid’s tongue; dreadfully close to liquid bubble gum to adults. Menus across the country sport lengthy drink selections, some filled with alcohol perfect for tourists looking to escape, and non-alchoholic, perfect for sampling the best produce the country has to offer.
Food tours were part of our daily itinerary, and juices and drinks became a sticking point for the girls: a colorful offshoot of our culinary focus. This provided them with a chance to contribute to the discussion of the food in Belize, and a way for them to start a rating system.
We kept track of their tally:
Ava and Ellie rate the drinks of Belize and their best spots to try both juice and soda.
Lime juice is made from local sour, Jamaican and key limes. It is squeezed and water and honey or sugar are added. It is like American style limeade.
Ellie: Bird’s Isle, Belize City: “I like that it is sweet and puckery. It doesn’t have too many feathers either. (The girls have always described pulp as ‘feathers’. It is something they hope to avoid.) I like that its big too like you can swim in it.”
Ava: Bird’s Isle, Belize City and Singing Sands in Placencia. Signing Sands put a cherry in it and its so sweet. Bird’s Isle because they give you a lot.”
Watermelon is blended with sugar and strained to make this juice. Seeds and stringy pulp are removed. It is served ice cold.
Ellie: Hamanasi, Hopkins. “Its not too sweet and a pretty color. Everyone should see this drink.”
Ava: George’s Kitchen, San Pedro. “It was hot that day and it was cool and pink. It tasted like a watermelon too. They put some sugar in, to make it sweet.”
Mush Melon – commonly called in the states, Cantaloupe:
Cantalopes are blended with sugar and poured over ice. This can be thicker than other juices and has a great fragrance.
Ellie: Hidden Treasure, San Pedro. “Its fresh squeezed. I watched the man at the bar make it for me and mix it up. He does good work.” Excellent assessment.
Ava:” I don’t like mush melons. They are mushy.”
While the oranges in Belize don’t sport the bright colored skin that we have come to expect in the US, (in fact they can be downright ugly) they are sweet and addictive. Their freshness lends a floral citrus quality to the drink. They are cut and juiced the old fashioned way: on a press or reamer.
Ellie and Ava: Cozy Corner, Placencia “The juice tastes freshly good.” said Ellie. Ava concurred, with a furrowed brow, “Its just so good and ocean fresh.” Note: I am not sure what this meant, except that while she was drinking it, she sat staring at the blue waters outside the restaurant’s palapa. The juice was freshly squeezed and tasted both like the blossom of the fruit and the zest. It was outstanding.
Made at the Bowen and Bowen factory in Belize City. Sodas are made with local water, repurposed carbon dioxide(a by-product of the beer making) from the brewery, and Belizean sugar. These drinks are everywhere and they are cheap. Bottles are glass and plastic – you have to pay a deposit if you walk away with the glass.
The Pizza Caulker, Caye Caulker: Both girls hands-down said that some way that it was chilled, (and it was ice cold.) made the soda taste the best. It also goes very well with a piping hot pizza, made with fresh dough.
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons