Saturday, May 16, 2009

Village Farm

Since it's been so long since I've written anything (there's just too much world to see to be sitting at a computer sometimes!), I'm just going to talk about the farm I most recently worked on. It was an organic mango, pineapple, cirtus, coconut, cocoplum, pepper, cacao, etc. farm on the coast of Belize, 8 miles north of Punta Gorda. Because it is so isolated you can only bet there by boat, and they live with no tv, no internet, one phone, a wood-burning stove (which was really fun to cook on and see bread made with), and generators that run when necesary. That part of the coast is actually a marine reserve, and I saw some fish and jellyfish, but no luck with manatees.

We entertained ourselves with reading (I read Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder, and The Bean Trees, and a book called Epitaph for a Peach), conversation, and as much time as possible out on the pier. There were a few huge thinder and lightning storms (I had no idea that there could literally be constant lightning for so many solid hours), and the sea was absolutely still aferwards. Normally though, the pier was the best place to escape the sanflies, who my friends describes as biting people into "itchy submission."

My main job on the farm was to search and destroy "God's Bush," which is a vine that is actually a parasite and smothers the cirtus and caco trees... Well, it smothers everything, but the citrus and cacao are what we're most concerned with. I have mad ladder skills from that. One morning was spent scrubbing the bottom of the boats and scraping the barnacles off, a nice excuse to squidge my feet around in the sea-sludge and enjoy the morning in the water. I also helped harvest citrus (lots of giant, orange limes), cocoplums, bilimbi (related to starfruit, so very tangy), some cacao, and tons of pepper. We spent an entire day harvesting pepper (2 big buckets worth, which is more than twice what the plants produced last year), and the next day was rainy, so we conveniently say "inside" (the cookhouse has a roof, but no walls, and a dirt floor with crab holes all over the place) cleaning the corns off of the stems. Then we spent the next few days putting it all out to dry.

And now to the most exciting part-eating, haha! First off, things like honey and brown rice come from within the toledo district, tofu and okara patties made in PG with soy from norther Honduras, and jams made on the farm. I helped harvest things for us to enjoy on the farm, many of which I never even knew existed. Bananas (which I obviously knew existed) surinam cherries, bread fruit, bread nuts. Bread fruit is basically a green fruit the size of a large cantaloupe, and is just a caarb/starch. We would boil it and sometimes eat it with salt, pepper, and slase, or add it to lentil soup, or when it was a little more ripe it was sweeter like a yam and I liked it plain. Breadnuts were the real experience though! The tree is very tall with huge leaves, and teh fruit hang all around. The fruits are a bumpy, breen ball about the sive of a small cantaloupe, and we have to wait until they fall from the tree to collect them. Then we would sit at the base of the tree and pick through their slime (slimier with more ants and maggots the older they are) to get the seeds out. They are brown seeds about the size of a fat thumb which need to be boiled and then shelled before eating. We had the largest harvest they had seen, and we cam up with some pretty creative ways to eat them (many of which, I would like to take credit for, thank you very much). We made porridge, where we mashed up the nuts with a bit of water and powdered milk, and added cinnamon, rasins, and honey. We also had them crispy with lots of spice, as a delicious curry with veggies, in a stir/fry with soy sauce and sesame seeds, in our soups, or just plain and delicious. (One other random note about food in belize/I love seaweed milkshakes!)

Now I'm in Honduras for some snorkeling, rafting, and maybe some "Carnival."

1 comment:

tornadogrrrl said...

Oh, I am so jealous of your wealth of breadnuts! Only one fell while we were there, and it was delicious.