Belizean Bon Vivant
hey are spineless bottom dwellers who come out in the night and have a reputation for being scavengers and cannibals. They crawl to seek out their live prey and hide away in rocks and caves. We are not talking about crazy crooks but rather about a certain savory crustacean. Lobsters have been around for millennia enjoyed by the Romans, the Moche people of Peru, the Vikings, Medieval Europeans, right up to 21st century diners. The only thing they are truly guilty of is being delicious. Apologies for those who are allergic. There are about 80-90 different species that fall under the common name ‘lobster’ and while they all play an important role in the marine ecosystem, they can be quite different in color, claw, and condiment. The species of lobster that is found in warm tropical waters and enjoyed by the Caribbean, are known as spiny lobsters (Palinuridae). Each year in July, during the local lobster season we throw our best Palinuridae parties better known as lobster fests. Lobster fests are a thing of pageantry and people. They are celebrations to mark the opening of the lobster season with ostentatious displays of lobster cuisines that are exhibited on grills and in restaurants, in the form of kebabs, burgers, pasta, tacos, sliders, poppers, bites, ceviche, curried, buttered, or blackened etc. Each year the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) supports the lobster fests in Placencia, Caye Caulker, and San Pedro. Lobsters are enjoyed the world over and for the next eight months, until February 28th 2024, locals and foreigners can enjoy our spiny variety.
The party is different at each fest. If we are talking about history, the Caye Caulker Lobster Fest has the most years under its tail. Started by islanders and members of the Veterans Football Club, the first lobster fest in Caye Caulker took place in July 1994. One can say that this is the original fest which starts off with the crowning of Miss Lobster Fest and follows through the weekend with different activities that revolve around a huge beach party. The San Pedro Lobster Fest followed suit in 2007 and might boast for being the largest of the three. The sheer number of restaurants that participate in the festival perhaps increases the style and number of authentic lobster dishes that are available. Additionally, to compliment the size of the island and the number of visitors, the San Pedro Lobster Fest lasts for 10 days and includes a variety of social events and a Block Party to end it off. The Placencia Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) decided to open its own lobster fest in 1998, to improve the local economy and attract more visitors to the village. Placencia’s fest is a question of style and stall. At the three-day lobster fest, visitors stroll on the slim boardwalk between stalls as they grab a favorite lobster dish in between breaks from swimming and relaxing at the sandy beach. The locations and parties are different but the lobsters are always served hot and delicious.
Lobster dishes are known for being criminally expensive but their tasty texture make them difficult to resist. This week we highlight the “bon vivant-ism” in our tourism. This -ism is because the lobster fest season tempts many of us to become bon vivants and delight our palates with cultivated and refined lobster dishes. We all enjoy going out with friends and eating good food and perhaps eating lobster is one form of good living. What is for certain is that lobsters are worth the wait – and the cost.
See you next week.
The Belize Tourism Board