On a cultural note: The tastes of Toledo

Hey there sportsfans, just wanted to pay a quick tribute to the culinary awesomeness that was PG. After a few weeks of rice and beans, beans and rice,  chicken and potato salad, the (unexpectedly) amazing restaurants we encountered in PG were a refreshing treat for our tummies!

Our undoubted fave would have to be Gomier’s, a straw topped palapa way out on the edge of town by the ‘Welcome to Punta Gorda’ sign. We originally stubled upon this amazing organic, vegetarian resto when we were looking for bicycles early one Sunday morning. Gomier came to PG in 1996 and opened up the restaurant with his wife. He’s famous in town for his vegetarian cooking classes, homemade tofu, soy milk, and tofu-based ice cream. Unfortunately his ice cream machine was in repair for the duration of our visit, but we did have the immense pleasure of dining there and indulging in a number of delicious treats including pan-fried tofu in curry, veggie burgers on home made bread, banana muffins, and soy milk with honey and vanilla, amongst other treats.

Another fave was Earth Runnin’s Cafe and Bukut Bar, which was oh-so-conveniently located right down the street from our, uh, cozy guesthouse. Undoubtedly one of the most chill spots in Belize, Earth Runnin’s is decorated with heavy wood tables and high-backed wooden chairs, minimal lighting and incredibly beautiful artwork on the walls. We especially enjoyed the music, a series of slow roots reggae tracks by St. Croix based band ‘Midnite’. The food was, of course, incredible — our first night we dined on whole grilled red snapper, black beans, and sauteed calalloo and okra. Another night it was butter and garlic-laden grilled conch atop linguine noodles.There was no menu, which we enjoyed. The owner would simply come out from the kitchen, tell us what he had on hand, how he planned to prepare it, and we would just go with it. Earth Runnin’s philosophy is  “to create food that is as close to the earth with bioregional awareness and support of local farmers and industries.  Particularly those that are working to produce organic produce. Our commitment is in keeping our food and atmosphere in keeping with the Rastafarian concept of “ital” which means ‘wholesome or nourishing'”. If you ever come to PG RUN to Earth Runnin’s. Do not walk, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. Get yourself to this amazing cafe.

Finally, the tortilla factories in Belize, and especially in PG we found, are the ultimate culinary cheap thrill. Sick of bread, pb and pineapple jam on stale bread sammies for lunch, Alex and I found ourselves one afternoon in a small wooden shack with a slapped-on and sloppily painted sign reading ‘tortilleria’. Inside, an ancient-looking woman slaps pieces of masa dough on a weathered flat-top grill, producing in mere seconds pile upon pile of steaming hot fresh corn tortillas. We made off with a whole pound of the things (about 30 of them?) for 2 bz, or 1 US dollar, slathered them with pb, nutella,  jam, and 5-cent bananas, and ate ourselves into a food coma.

I wish we had some pictures of the massive amounts of amazing food we consumed in PG, but unfortunately we were too busy cramming the stuff into our mouths as quickly as possible to stop and take any pictures. Don’t worry though — we are slowly (or maybe not so slowly) eating our way through this amazing country, so stay tuned for chapter two: the amazing $1.25 dinner. Coming soon to a street vendor near you!

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