The “Ix Cat ik” culinary experience in Valladolid

Visiting the Merida and Valladolid area, where many refrigerated Canadians nest; a couple of food experiences stood out, one in Mérida and one in Valladolid.

Of course both cities have strong roots in the dominant Maya culture, and that’s the kind of flavor we want to taste… but let me tell you that the “Ix Cat Ik” experience started with a cab ride out of the central area of Valladolid.

The outdoor seating area is rustic — two women sit in a hut by a comal (griddle) heated by a wood fire expertly making tortillas. I watched as one grilled my order for an egg slipped between two tortillas before sending them to the kitchen for ixcatik chili and chaya toppings.

And good to know: there’s an open fire pit with red-hot embers from the day’s pibil-cooking, a pit one could easy walk into as I almost did. I didn’t see it until the owner pointed it out. A Vancouver Coastal Health inspector would have a heart attack.

Traditional Maya herbs and greens (like chaya and achiote and makulan) grow in and around this restaurant for the dishes and for excellent cocktails. The owner’s father brings his experience as a farmer to the task. I had a light meal of sopa de lima (delicate and clean flavoured) and the egg filled tortilla.

My husband said his smartly plated pork pibil was the best yet (and we’d had a lot). The kitchen uses the metate (flat stone grinder) to mash and grind and extract flavour. The owner is incredibly hospital explaining his food and vision with every guest. I loved this place.