I fell in love with hot, fried heaven on a plate. It happened in Belize. It was amazing.
No one warned me about the lure of fry jacks before our trip to Belize. But as soon as Shon and I crossed into the country from Guatemala, we saw signs for them everywhere, all the way from the remote western Cayo District to the island of Caye Caulker.
Fry jacks are a Belizean breakfast staple and comprise flour, shortening, baking powder, water, and salt that’s been worked into a dough, cut into squares or triangles, and deep-fried until slightly puffy and golden brown. They’re crisp outside, slightly chewy inside, and typically topped or stuffed with refried beans, scrambled eggs, and cheese. They’re a bit like a New Orleans beignet but savory instead of sweet.
We had our first fry jacks on Caye Caulker, where we ordered two from a small wood house with a long line in front and a list of fry jack fillings painted directly on its wall. We sat at a sandy, rickety picnic table in the shade of the house and unwrapped our breakfast. Slightly greasy and stuffed with beans and eggs, our fry jacks didn’t look like much, but one bite, and I was gone, utterly satisfied with my delectable, deep-fried meal. A few bites more, and it was gone. A love affair all too fleeting.
Since our return home, Shon and I have talked about making fry jacks a thousand times, but it’s yet to happen. Standing in our kitchen, debating breakfast, we settle instead for old standbys: Cereal. Smoothies. Oatmeal. The unrefined fry jack, in all its sumptuous, greasy glory, just doesn’t seem to fit into our more puritan breakfast routine.
Still, the memory of fry jacks is fresh, temptation continues to call, and I suspect it’s only a matter of time before I toss the cereal bowls aside, dig my hands into some dough, heat a fat pot of oil, and get frying.