Friday, June 25, 2010

Garifuna Flava


If you've ever traveled to Belize, you may have glimpsed the richness of Garifuna Culture. The Garifuna, sometimes called Black Caribs, are of mixed African. Arawak and Carib ancestry and live primarily along the Caribbean coast of Belize, Honduras and Guatemala.  The Diaspora community also gathers in major American cities and Chicago is fortunate to be one of them. I have many Belizian friends and have always enjoyed spicy Belizian food but I never experienced the full gamut of Garifuna specialties until I visited Garifuna Flava, a wonderful restaurant on Chicago's South Side.



I could live on the  crispy, golden goodness of panades, deep fried mini empanadas stuffed with fish, all by themselves.  They are served with varying levels of scorching hot sauce but they really are flavorful enough without it.  Garnaches are another popular appetizer.  They're thin tostadas topped with re fried beans, cheddar cheese and ketchup that I've never developed a taste for, mainly because I'm too busy gobbling panades.  Like the people, Garifuna cuisine mixes Latin, Amerindian and African influences.   The hudut, which is an important staple of mashed plantains that accompany the intriguing variety of stews, is similar to the West African fufu as well as the Puerto Rican mofongo.  Hussein, one of the gregarious owners, guides newcomers through the menu as well as the culture.  Reggae, Punta Rock and Garifuna rhythms by Andy Palacio floats through the eatery as heaping platters of food arrive.

Of course, I had to have the red snapper, served with rice and pea, plantains and ducunu, a freshly grated corn pudding served in the corn husk.  Other delights include darasa another popular staple made from  mashed green plantains, stewed pigtails and a spicy tomato-based sauce, oxtail stew, steamed king fish and conch fritters.  There's a full bar supplying tropical drinks and more excuses never to leave the place.  If you never make it to Belize, I think Garifuna Flava serves up an authentic cultural excursion.

17 comments:

Beauty Is Diverse said...

I've always wanted to go to Belize, the food look wonderful.

Fly Girl said...

Belize is a beautiful country but I never had food quite like this while I was there.

Ibou said...

I really like Garifuna music. The last album by the great late Andy Palacio is a masterpiece.

A Cuban In London said...

I swear that fish just winked at me. Are you sure you didn't insert some kind of motion sofware in the photo? Because that fish was just saying: 'Baby, eat me, eat me!

Fantastic post.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Ibou, Andy Palacio was a favorite of mine too, I'm so sad he's gone.

Cubano, I don't know, I think you have a closer relationship with red snapper than even I do.

eden said...

The foods look good. The other day I had fried snapper. I would love to try making empanada stuffed with fish. We have Filipino empanada recipes but we use pork or beef. Great post

Fly Girl said...

Eden, that's the only reason I can't eat Filipino empanadas, because I don't eat pork or beef. Fish filled ones are delicious!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Though I don't loke rice, the other food looks delicious.

Ekua said...

This was bad timing for looking at this post, I have been craving empanadas for such a long time now and those look and sound tasty ;)

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, not like rice! I don't know how you survive.

Ekua, I forgot my "don't read on an empty stomach" disclaimer! Sorry.

Rachel Cotterill said...

You know how much I love hearing about cultures and cuisines - never heard of this one, but it sounds great :)

Fly Girl said...

Rachel, it's not a widely known culture but it really is very interesting with a delicious cuisine.

Cate said...

Oh yes, this is what I call living the life. I want some Belize friends too!! Good food goes well with great company. Not sure about the stewed pigstails but I'm not into any kind of tail.

Fly Girl said...

Cate, hee hee, my husband would seriously disagree with that!

Marie said...

I could seriously get into this cuisine! Fish empanadas are a genius idea. And, of course, all the best cuisines come with hot sauce:-)

Anonymous said...

This is awesome blog. Well done to the author.

Fly Girl said...

Thanks so much!