For years I’ve battled addiction. It brings an equal amount of pleasure and pain, but it’s something I can’t help. It’s a biochemical reaction to an organic substance. I’m addicted to Marie Sharp’s hot sauce.
Anyone with an addiction knows that it clouds the brain, causing bad decisions that can put you in harm’s way. Last weekend my addiction lead me to a seedy motel on La Brea just north of San Vicente. A pimp stood in the parking lot talking to another pimp in a white Cadillac. Judgment impaired, I followed my craving for spice into Flavors of Belize.
The increasing dopaminergic transmission in my brain was fueled by jars of orange hot sauce on every table in the newly opened restaurant. This was a homemade version of what Marie Sharp made famous.
Any country that produces a lot of hot sauce usually has a range of beverages to battle the spice. Belize has soursop and craboo juice. The craboo is much sweeter, but both are refreshing and light.
We started with a sampler platter of appetizers.
Panades: masa tortilla stuffed with fish and fried
Salbutes: fried masa tortilla topped with shredded chicken and a cabbage slaw made with tomato and cilantro
Garnaches: homemade, fried tortilla topped with refried beans, special Belizean tomato and onion sauce and Dutch cheese (gouda?)
While the panades remind me of fish sticks, the salbutes’ cabbage was a great addition to a flavorful, light starter. The cheese on the garanches elevate them above a typical tostada.
The highlight of the meal were the ducunu- young corn (tomalito de elote) tamales taken off the cob, ground and seasoned, then steamed. An irresistible combination of salty and sweet, leaving the weak willed begging for more.
The oxtail, which had been cooking for days, was succulent. The rice and beans combination were a little burnt-tasting but still tasty. With a side of plantains and potato salad, this dish was all we really needed.
Next time we’re definitely trying the conch fritters, weekend-only chirmole (black achiote soup with chicken and a boiled egg) and bread pudding.
I’m pretty sure I was Belizean in a past life, because now my addiction has broadened to include the entire country’s cuisine. The hot sauce was just a gateway drug.
Get your fix:
Flavors of Belize
1271 South La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019