Let Them Eat Chaya: Cultural Revitalization through Culinary Offerings in Belize
Griffith, Lauren (TTU)
Griffith, Cameron (TTU)
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The Belizean culinary landscape has experienced a dramatic shift in recent years, with an abundance of “fresh” and “local” dishes (i.e., salads) appearing on restaurant menus. While many tourists appreciate the option of ordering salad, there is a truly local green that might be equally or better suited to the tourist market given what we know about tourists’ interests in both authenticity and healthful eating. This paper explores both host and guest attitudes towards chaya, a leafy green that is high in protein and may have anti-diabetic properties. We argue that tourists enjoy eating chaya but restauranteurs are not taking advantage of its potential as a sustainable, low-cost dish that could also help preserve traditional foodways. Though restauranteurs are apt to cite supply chain issues as one of the reasons they are reluctant to make chaya a menu mainstay, we also believe that when a food occupies an ambiguous place in the local foodscape—as chaya does—local hosts may be unable to leverage it to is full potential.