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Garinagu Culture in Belize (Coconut Oil)

The Garinagu are a subculture of Belize originating from the mixing of West African slaves and indigenous people in Central America and speak the Garifuna language. They are located in Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Besides having their own language they are known in Belize for their music, food, and dance. Garifuna Settlement Day, November 19th, is a national holiday in Belize to celebrate the arrival of the Garinagu people to Belize.

One of the staples of Garinagu food is coconut oil. Coconut oil preparation is something that has been handed down through the generations from mother to daughter. This process is done almost exclusively by manual labor. The coconuts are gathered and opened to remove the coconut meat.


Belizean women straining the coconut milk from the meat


The coconut is shredded and then gathered to be pressed by hand to remove the coconut milk from the meat. The milk is then left in the sun to separate the water from the oil, which rises to the top. The oil, which has hardened, is then scraped from the top of the coconut milk and boiled to liquefy the oil and separate it from the remaining amount of coconut milk. Once this is completed the oil is then fit for daily use and storage.

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