Not only home to vibrant colours, rich culture and warm, friendly people, Yucatan is also a mecca for memorable flavours.
Often, we forget just how regionally distinctive food can be. The flavours and dishes you find prominent in one city might be vastly different in the next. But this is what makes culinary travel so compelling.
Such is the case with Mexico, where cuisine can vary from coast to coast, and in terms of regional specialties, Yucatecan cuisine deserves a lot of attention.
Cuisine as cultural heritage
Based on a blend of ingredients used by the ancient Maya, Yucatecan cuisine incorporates flavours brought from Europe, with later contributions from the Caribbean and Middle East.
The food is justifiably considered some of the best of what Mexico has to offer. In fact, Yucatecan cuisine has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO since 2013.
Distinct and memorable flavours
Bold yet welcoming (and often warming) flavours are bolstered by intricate layers of spices and textures. This unique combination of condiments and spices (including pumpkin seed, oregano, red onion, sour orange, sweet chili, lime, achiote, habanero pepper and cilantro) give Yucatan food its distinctive and memorable flavour.
5 Yucatan dishes not to miss
If you’re wondering where to start when it comes to Yucatecan cuisine, here are some of the region’s most popular dishes.
Trade Tex-Mex tacos for this traditional Mexican pulled pork, marinated in tart citrus juice and earthy achiote paste. The meat is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground until fall-off-the-bone tender.
What you might call a cousin to enchiladas, this dish sees corn tortillas dipped in a rich sauce made from pumpkin seeds. Filled with hardboiled egg, the tortillas are finished with a tomato and chile topping.
PANUCHOS AND SALBUTES
Though they both use crunchy fried masa dough as a base, from here panuchos and salbutes differ, being that the former are stuffed with refried beans before being fried. Both get topped with varying combinations of tomato, lettuce, ground meat and pickled onions.
SOPA DE LIMA
This simple, comforting soup typically consists of a chicken or turkey broth, lime juice and seasonings such as oregano, cloves and cumin. The fragrant bowl then gets topped with crunchy fried tortilla strips and smoky habaneros.
Born of a Dutch influence on the region, this popular dish consists of Edam cheese (queso de bola) hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat, raisins, olives and hardboiled eggs, then seasoned with various spices.
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