Although we could criticize many things of the Spanish conquest, I truly believe that it also brought many positive cultural changes like “mestizaje” and syncretism; even today these can be seen in religious rites, customs, architecture, clothing and of course food; those things make our country culturally rich and unique.
As a restaurant manager centered on tourism service, it is a privilege to serve real Mexican cuisine to both domestic and foreign tourists. Many people question us about the variety of dishes in our buffet. We serve regional and traditional Yucatecan and Mexican food, and not just “Tacos” and “Chilli con Carne”. Due to marketing and advertising, Tex Mex has been linked with “Typical Mexican Food” when it really is a mix of tacos, meat and beans created in the United States.
Even non Yucatecan Domestic tourists cannot understand why our “codzitos” can be that good, being only a “hoax” of a taco as they are empty. We find it quite interesting how the mix of tortilla with homemade tomato sauce and “queso sopero” could be one of our most served dishes! We just have to make sure our guests don’t try to eat them with cutlery.
As I said, Mexico is culturally very rich as it can be divided into several regions, each with its own distinctive music, dance, costumes, architecture, language, geography and obviously, its own gastronomy.
Yucatan is a clear example. Here, among many other culinary specialties, we have panuchos, salbutes, marinated chicken, stuffed cheese, poc chuc and of course, the world famous “Cochinita Pibil”. If so far you don’t know what it means, this is a Mayan word that indicates something is “cooked underground”. Although nowadays, for convenience in Yucatecan homes it is steamed or baked in ovens.
In some places though, such as the Restaurant Pueblo Maya (where I have the privilege to work), it is still traditionally cooked buried underground.
The “hole” is prepared to become an underground stove, and once the firewood have turned into embers, a stainless steel can containing the marinated pork wrapped in banana leaves is placed inside.
It is covered with a lid, then topped with earth and left to cook for about 16 hours. This allows time for the meat to absorb the exquisite combination of ingredients that gives it a unique flavor. The process is complicated, but it is worth doing it.
As our main target is foreign tourism, we only use high quality low-fat prime meat. Among 22 choices, the cochinita is by far, the most demanded dish in our menu. Handmade tortillas, red onion and habanero chile are the perfect ingredients to go along with this typical iconic dish.
In Pueblo Maya Restaurant we prepare pork using the traditional “pibil” underground system with the original set of ingredients, spices and dressings, and cook it for many hours over low heat, giving it the characteristic taste and texture that has made it the “Yucatecan dish par excellence”.
When you visit us, no matte what you order, do not hesitate to ask for at least one cochinita taco, make sure the tortilla is handmade and hot as it should be; and do not forget to order a “Horchata” or an icy cold Montejo beer!
by Lic. Tanya Barroeta
Pueblo Maya – Mexican Restaurant & Mexican Crafts Market
- Address: Calle 15 # 48-B, Manzana # 13, Piste, Yucatan, C.P. 97751
- Location: 1 km (½ mile) from Chichen Itza.
- Tel: (985) 851-0391
- Tel: (985) 851-0098
- Tel: (985) 851-0024
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