I’ll be honest; when I wrote down my list of foods to try out, I legitimately was dreading the thought of Boil Up. Individually, each ground food is not my favorite. All-together, talk about overdose of least favorites. Then throw in fish? And dumplings (or boiled cake). Talk about nothing I would ever order for myself because of pre-conceived notions and experiences.
That, however, was the point of a food bucket list. I had to try it. I had to give it a good bite, to decide for myself by actually tasting. Since some of my items are specialty foods cooked during a particular season, I decided to try Boil Up, in honor of Garifuna Settlement Day. To hear that I’ve not had it, you’d think I didn’t have a DROP of Garifuna blood in me…yet I do!
Virginia Melendez has been cooking for 20 years, and as the proud owner of Itza Belizean Place eatery in downtown San Pedro, provides special items like hudut, boil up and more. With her repertoire and reputation preceding her, it made sense to taste her version of the boil up. Taught by her mother to make this dish, Virginia served up a beautiful plate complete with whole fish, some ground food, a sauce and the classic boiled cake.
The moment of truth came, and, I took a bite of each item separately. YUM! Okay, I was missing out…time to taste it all together, and feel the full effect. More bites for me, and I realized that I had let my own previous prejudices against the humble ground food stop me from indulging in a really rich meal. No wonder my friends were all surprised that I’d not tasted this dish – they knew what was up!!
A combination of tomatoes, coconut oil, fish, root vegetables, a surprisingly light dough disc that had been boiled to perfection, and years of tradition, all came together for a ‘boil up’. There really is no better name that that, because that’s just what it is! I can’t wait to hit up some more items now!
2 lbs. fish
1 lb. pigtail
4 large sweet potatoes
4 ripe plantains
6 green bananas
4 cups of water
4 tsp baking powder
½ cup of water, as well as a large pot of water
2 green peppers
4 cups flour
Salt and pepper
-Combine the flour, baking powder and water to create the dough for the boil cakes.
-Separate the dough into 4 inch balls and flatten each.
Ground food :
-Peel and chop your yams, cassavas, sweet potatoes into chunks, and the ripe plantains and green bananas into two or three slices.
-Boil your ground food in a pot and boil the flattened dough on top of the ground food right before its ready.
-Boil the eggs
-Boil the fish
-Boil the pigtail
-Cut up your tomatoes, onions and green peppers and sauté with tomato sauce. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Combine the different food groups to create your own Belizean Boil Up.