While English maybe the official language, Kriol is the real language of Belize. Based on English, but with its own grammar system, and lots of other words thrown in, on first coming here, you will probably understand 50-70% of what people say on the streets.
Some proper English words that I think I almost never used at home are used all the time here. Examples include variations of the verb “to vex”, which is used all the time instead of annoyed, angry, pissed off etc, e.g.: “Wha’ yu di geh vex wid me for?” ‘What are you getting angry with me for?”.
My father-in-law, who’s first languages are actually Garifuna and Spanish, broke the news to me that “di crab done condemn some of di okra” that he planted (although happily not all, and as the surviving okra plants are now 12 foot high, they are out of reach of even the largest of blue crabs). Even now, sometimes Ray will say things that have me simply replying “huh?” in confusion. Some call Kriol simplified English, but to me, there is nothing simple about it, and like with all languages, there are some things that only make sense when they are said in Kriol.
I will leave you with January’s recipe from this year’s Kriol Kalinda for stewed gibnut, a huge rabbit-like rodent, which can indeed be made with rabbit if anyone feels like being chef.
It’s alternative name, Royal Rat, comes from the fact that it was fed to Queen Elizabeth during her last visit. I’m not sure whether she found eating an over-sized rodent vexing or not, but I’m sure she’s been fed many strange things in her time.
Schoo Raiyal Rat
¼ or ½ a wan gibnat (bowt 3 pong)
1/8 kop vineega er di joos a 2 laim
1 teespoon seezn saal
3 plog gyaalik, chap op; er 2 teespoon jrai gyaalik
½ teespoon blak pepa
½ teespoon taim
1 tayblspoon saiz rikaado
1 tayblspoon Lea ‘n’ Perrins saas
1 meedyon oanyan, slais op
2 kop vejitablz
How fu mek it: Wash meet wid vineega er laim. Kot op di meet eena di saiz porshan weh yu waahn. Jrayn di meet gud gud. Miks op aal di seeznin dehn lang wid di saas sotay yu ga wahn wet amonk. Rob dat op gud-wan pahn di meet. Den set di meet wan said fu soak dong wahn lee owa self; oavanait eena frij gud tu (di langa di beta). Heet ail eena yu pan. Ad di meet. Ton dong heet tu meedyom. Brayz fu 30-40 minits; ad 1/3 kop waata evri now ahn den wen di meet jrai owt, sotay ih tenda. Kova di pat meentaim if yu waahn ih moa tenda. Yu ku ad di vejitablz fahn di taim yu staat to brayz if yu waahn dehn saafi saafi, er wayt sotay now fu ad di vejitablz if you waahn dehn moa ferm. Ad lee moa waata ahn kuk dong tu ail. Serv wid blak-aiy peez ahn rais, bayk plaantin ahn pitayta salad.
Rikaado, or “recado” is a Belizean seasoning made from the annatto plant (the same plant used to colour orange cheese). You can use paprika instead.