Delicious Mexican food is one of the reasons we like visiting Mexico.
There are so many dishes unique to Yucatan state that in three weeks I haven’t been able to try them all.
It is my mission to sample them all. Dare I say that Yucatecan food just might be my favorite?
Warning: The following photos may cause intense food cravings.
“Here isolated from the rest of Mexico an entirely different culinary tradition was born. This area was home port to the Dutch, French, Spanish and of course marauding pirates, and it experienced a fascinating impact on the people and the local cuisine, so much so that no other region in Mexico has the same kinds of dishes served here.”
What makes up the Tastes of Yucatan cuisine? It incorporates traditional Mexican ingredients such as avocado, purple onions, tomatoes, corn and habanero chile as well as several that are of Mayan origin including things you might not suspect, such as wild turkey, deer, quail and chaya (which is similar to Swiss chard but grows on trees.) The Maya also used banana leaves instead of corn husks. Other ingredients in the cuisine of Yucatan state have been imported from Europe, such as the sour orange from Spain and the Dutch gouda cheese.
In other parts of the world vinegar is used to pickle and preserve, but here, naranja agria (sour orange juice) is the acid that was initially devised as a way to preserve meat in the tropical climate.
Poc chuc is another favourite dish that is marinated in naranja agria juice along with a red seasoning mix. It is a thin pork fillet that is marinated and grilled.
“Makes sure to get your daily dose of Vitamin T” is a common saying in Mexico (or so I read online, so it’s true, right?) Though most assume the “T” implies only tacos — it also stands for tamales and tortas.
In Mexico, you’ll always be able to find authentic Mexican tacos. However, in Yucatan, you can also change up your tortilla style with salbutes and panuchos.
There are tamales like tamales colados, pib (AKA mucbipollo), brazo de reina, and vaporcitos one can find only in this part of Mexico.
One I haven’t been able to try yet is the Brazo de reina, which means “the queen’s arm.” It is a tamal made with masa dough that’s mixed with chaya, a local dark green veggie, which turns the masa green. It’s then stuffed with chopped hard boiled eggs and topped with sikil paak – a ground pumpkin seed and tomato salsa.
Kibis are diamond-shaped and fried breads. They are served plain or stuffed with a cabbage salad mixture, meat or a cheese similar to Edam cheese. Mexico had an influx of Middle Eastern (mostly Lebanese) immigrants in the late-19th century and the Kibis is similar to the Middle-Eastern kibbeh.
Rellenonegro is a stew-like dish made with turkey meat in a recado negro (black spice mixture). Its jet black color may look weird at first, but this is a really delicious Yucatecan dish that gets its color from charred chile de árbol (tree chili), or chile ancho. The recado spice mixture is added to turkey stock and turkey meat, then slow-cooked into a stew. It comes served with a hard boiled egg.
Papadzules, is another favorite in Mérida. They are like enchiladas; corn tortillas folded over chopped hard-boiled eggs and then dipped in a pipián (squash seed) sauce and drizzled with a fried tomato sauce.
The Yucatan Peninsula is surrounded by water, therefore seafood and shellfish dishes are plentiful.
Pan de Cazón means “dogfish bread.” It’s made with alternating layers of lightly fried corn tortillas and flaked dogfish and some refried beans and smothered in a tomato sauce. Dogfish is common in the Yucatan, and similar to cod, but with a milder, sweeter flavor.
Did you notice how colorful all these dishes are in Yucatan state?
UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared in 2010 that traditional Mexican food is an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind” or basically, that it is a cultural treasure worth preserving.
I wholeheartedly agree! My stomach agrees! How about you?
Leave a comment about your favorite Mexican food. Are there other ethnic foods you consider “a treasure worth preserving?