Whether eaten on the beach, at a baseball game, or on a busy Mérida avenue, Yucatecans love kibis and have them regularly. Kibis are a legacy of Lebanese cuisine in the gastronomy of Yucatan, the result of the migration and adaptation of a recipe. Now they are part of the gastronomic route of our trips around the Peninsula.
The shout of “kibis, kibis, kibis!” it is famous in the peninsula; and if you follow the sound, you will find mobile cabinets with a kind of crunchy meatball ideal for a snack. A recipe adaptable to the finest restaurant tables or walks on the beach, summarizes the process of Lebanese migration to this area.
They are a mixture of wheat, meat and two cultures; kibis are fried meatballs that are originally shaped by hand. In some versions there is a hole inside to fill to the taste of the diner, others include pine nuts in the pasta or mint to season. This special phenomenon can be stuffed, with “queso de bola” (a Dutch cheese extremely popular in Yucatan) and there are even pressed pork rinds.
To prepare kibis, the bulgar is essential. It is soaked cracked wheat until “puffed up”, mixed with ground lamb originally. The bulgar is drained, squeezed and it is to this paste that the meat is added, each recipe seasoning it differently with spices.
This is how a recipe originating from the Middle East is adapted with its ingredients in Yucatan. The “kiberos” sell the result of mixing wheat with meat on the streets of these tourist destinations. During a tour of the beach, they offer a national and international public these delicacies, usually cold. They are perfect for a snack to revive your day, although their importance in Yucatecan gastronomy has led them to the best restaurants.
At the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, there was a strong migration of Lebanese and Syrians to Mexico, Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Yucatán were the states where the largest number of populations were received. It is said that Mexico has more than 400,000 inhabitants of Lebanese origin, but the cultural heritage is only visible in some particular places.
Yucatan is one of them; the business and cultural activity of the migrant population in this state is something to talk about. It is not surprising that, between the exchange of traditions and visions, different dishes have been born that combine the mutual taste for each other’s gastronomy. A well-known example is the taco al pastor, which originates from the Arab pita bread taco and the kebbab-style way of cooking.
However, another dish with Lebanese roots is the kibis. These recipes originate from the national dish of Lebanon, the queppe or kebbeh is a mass of lamb meat with bulgar that has many variations; one of the most popular is the fried version that is now cooked in the Yucatan Peninsula. Some kibis with onion and habanero salad are the summary of the migratory legacy of Lebanese cuisine to the gastronomy of Yucatan.