Monday, May 19, 2008
Similarly to when I'm home in the U.S., lunch time is probably my favorite time of day here. Somewhere between 11:30 and noon, pretty much all of San Ignacio shuts down and everyone goes out or goes home for lunch. "Home" for us means the Cornerstone kitchen, where Miss Nellie toils each weekday to provide a delicious homestyle Belizean meal for the volunteers and about a dozen children who either live too far away to go home for lunch or won't get lunch even if they do go home.
The meal always includes white rice, and almost always red beans. Because the rice and beans come from relatively local farms and don't go through any preservative or mass distribution process, they taste a heck of a lot better than the rice and beans we used to buy at Shaw's back in Boston. On top of the staple rice and beans, Nellie cooks up a main course like vegetable stew, fried chicken, curried chicken, scrambled eggs, or chili ground beef. All the food is heavy on the flavor- they never skimp on the spices here. And if you have the stomach for it (as I do) you can top off anything with habanero hot sauce. Maria Sharp's and Hot Mama's are the two big brands here, and you can find the stuff anywhere. People like their food HOT here!
The other thing that's cool about lunch is hanging out with the schoolchildren in the Food Program. They're all in the range of about 8-13 years old, and somehow they are the only people in Belize who don't wilt from the midday heat. They finish up their lunches and then start bouncing off the walls! They're always looking for someone to play games with them. Lately we've been hooked on hangman, although I'm hoping Betsy and the other girls can come up with something new and creative to do because I'm getting sick of that game!