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What Is Garnache?

N. Kalu
N. Kalu

Garnache is a Mestizo dish which is popular in Belize. An ordinary garnache consists of a fried corn tortilla with beans, lettuce, and cheese. Other ingredients, such as shredded carrots or hot peppers, can be added as well. Garnache is typically consumed as a fast food or a street food, and is popular with tourists and locals alike.

Low-cost food in Belize is often sold from very small restaurants. Similar to those seen in other parts of South America, these small restaurants generally consist only of a counter to order food and a couple of tables. Space is very limited, so some locations don't have any tables at all. Although this style of restaurant can serve any cuisine, some foods are more commonly sold in these locations than others. Besides garnaches, other foods commonly sold at these restaurants include burritos, tamales, and tacos. Food from these locations is typically very cheap, but the low cost is not necessarily an indicator of low quality.

Woman baking cookies
Woman baking cookies

Garnache is especially popular with vegetarians. Legume based dishes are high in vegetable protein, which can be considered complete protein when combined with carbohydrates. The tortilla and cheese adds protein to this dish, making it a very nutritious and appealing choice for vegetarians.

Making garnache at home is a fairly straightforward process. A small pancake-sized corn tortilla is traditionally used, but a flour tortilla would work as well. This tortilla can be purchased in advanced or prepared fresh. The tortilla is then fried evenly on both sides, ensuring a crispy, crunchy texture. Toppings are added next, which usually include dark refried beans, lettuce, shredded carrot, and cheese, but these ingredients can be easily substituted for others. Mashed red beans can be used instead of refried beans, or other vegetables such as hot peppers, tomatoes, green peppers, or kale can be added.

Other popular Mestizo foods include escabeche, panades, and tamales. Escabeche is a soft spicy chicken dish which is first boiled in a vinegar broth and then baked for crispness. Panades consist of a spicy corn meal dough, called masa, stuffed with fish, fried, and then dipped in a savory sauce. Tamales are also made from masa, although somewhat less spicy, and are usually stuffed with meat or vegetables before being wrapped in leaves and steamed. All of these foods are easy to prepare at home or in a restaurant.

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