When searching where to eat in Belize, I found many great restaurants and cafes. However John the Bakerman’s tiny bakery shack was somewhere I stumbled upon randomly, and how glad I was to do so…
A nine-hour plane journey, an overnight stop off in our favourite South Beach, Miami for cocktails at The Delano; 2 hours onward flight to Belize City, followed by a half hour wobble through the sky in a tiny tin-can plane over jungle and blue seas, landing and taking off twice to drop fellow passengers off on the way… This is the journey that has transported me from my office job in London to the Creole seaside village of Placencia, Belize.
On our first trip into Placencia village, I spotted a sign that could only lead to something wonderful. “This way to John The Bakerman“. Whilst my family ambled ahead, I stole off the beaten track to see what this fellow John had in store. The wooden board walk lead me to a tiny shack with a cubby hole but no one to be seen. I approached and popped my head inside to see an antique weighing scale, extremely antique oven and bread, lots of bread. Yet still not a whisper of life apart from the breath of the bread gently rising.
Footsteps behind me followed by a local voice approached “Would you like some bread ma’am?” I turned round, somewhat startled as I didn’t wish to seem like a trespasser, to find the voice belonged to a young man, my age at a guess! “My father is the baker, but today he is not here.” I told him I would return in the morrow!
And that I did… three times! The first was when we had the pleasure of meeting John the Baker Man himself, he was deep in the depths of his next batch of bread making. We watched for a while whilst his son explained what he was doing and he told us to come back at 3ish to taste the goods once fresh out of the oven. After watching the Man United game in a beach-side bar we went back. “Still not ready I’m afraid, come back in an hour… follow the smell!”
So after a late lunch on the quay side at Brenda’s jerk chicken shack, we wandered back. We knew it was third time lucky as the waft of freshly baked bread filtered into the air as we approached. “Ready!” the baker’s son greeted us. We stepped for the third time that day into the shack which was now full of bread loaves and rolls galore. They didn’t hang about as they were already popping the next lot of dough in the oven, no rest for the wicked!
The baker’s son grabbed us a couple of rolls, burning himself on the hot crust as he went. We paid our way, finally exchanged names, and on we plodded with our bag of bread. By the time we got back to the hotel suffice to say one of the rolls had been munched away, making the most of the immediate freshness! John invited me back to make cinnamon rolls with them the following morning but we had already booked ourselves to go see some turtles. Shame, but not a bad compromise I’d say!