Garnaches — Food of the Belizean Gods…
If memory serves me correct, my love affair with ‘garnaches’ began when I was probably around 6 years old and my half-Spanish, half-Mexican nanny introduced me to this epicurean delight. And to this day — she really does makes the world’s best garnaches!
So one fine day, when I was feeling particularly reminiscent of my childhood years. You know the days when you wistfully retrospect about the good ol’ days when we had not a single care in the world. So on one of those days, I requested my mom to recreate the magic of the mystical corn tortilla snack that I had grown up gorging on.
I happen to be blessed with a mother who enjoys cooking good food as much as she enjoys eating it. Being the kind soul that she is, she even took it upon herself to make a batch of spicy garnaches for Saturday Brunch.
Garnaches are a common roadside snack found in Belize, Central America — and are made by deep frying corn tortillas until they are golden brown in color and perfectly crisp to bite into. Since the tortillas are pre-cooked / roasted, upon deep-frying they attain an almost surreal texture that is deliciously crisp (just like every chip should be), but they aren’t too hard or chewy as often the case tends to be. The tortillas have a mild yet familiar aroma of corn, but since the maasa (corn flour dough) has been pre-seasoned with herbs and extremely importantly — salt — they make a superbly flavorful to snack on until one’s desire is satiated and then some.
These deep fried tortillas are then topped upon with refried beans, which act as a mild and slightly tamed precursor to the hot and spicy salsa sauce. Having been seasoned with salt and pepper, the beans on their own are fairly simple. But beauty often lies in the simplest of things. Next comes a generous helping of salsa sauce. Now, I’ve had some really bad salsa sauces in my time — but the one I’m referring to is made from roasted tomatoes, that are have been charred to perfection, it includes a hint of green chilies for heat, sriracha for a hint of zing, and onions for some sweetness and tomatoes for the tang, and rounded off with an accurate dose of sea salt.
Finally a generous helping of melted cheese, when added to this fiery concoction results in the perfect culmination of a visual treat that tickles more than one sense!