Traditional food of Yucatan - Yucatecan cuisine - Yucatecan dishes

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Yucatecan Cuisine

The traditional food of Yucatan is actually a mixture of the Hispanic culture with the Maya. The exquisite flavor of Yucatecan cuisine depends precisely on the combination of original recipes and ingredients, and is easily recognizable throughout Mexico for the predominance of the strong seasonings used.

Maize, or corn is an essential component of Yucatecan dishes, and is consumed in abundance. Some typical dishes such as lime soup, papadzul and Motul-style eggs all use fried tortilla in their preparation; other dishes such as the panucho or dzotolbichay are prepared with masa, or the tortilla dough. Turkey is also used widely in Yucatecan cuisine, and is the basic ingredient of a wide variety of succulent traditional dishes.

Playa del Carmen has an infinite number of restaurants where one can enjoy all kinds of food, from the most elemental and economic to the most sophisticated and elegant, as well as gourmet restaurants offering international cuisine.

The cooking delights of the traditional Yucatan cuisine are made of an exquisite mixture of ingredients used by ancient Mayas, with flavors brought by the Spaniards during the Colony, and later, with contributions of the Caribbean and the Middle East. For a time, the Yucatan Peninsula was considered to be difficult to reach, because the mountainous terrain and the few roads that existed isolated it from the rest of Mexico, but having ports and cultural and commercial dealings with Europe - especially with France-, New Orleans and Cuba, the Yucatan people were naturally influenced by the many aspects of these countries and cities, thus forming the base of one of the most recognized gastronomies of Mexico and the world.

And it’s no wonder, since Yucatan food has international fame due to the unique combination of condiments and spices such as pumpkin seed, oregano, purple onion, sour orange, sweet chili pepper, xcatic pepper, habanero, max chili pepper and cilantro, which, when mixed, give that very special taste to the cuisine of this region, once known as the “Land of the pheasant and the deer”, because said species were used as main ingredients to the delicacies here prepared; nowadays these have been replaced by pork and turkey meat, adding diverse condiments, creating the delicious regional meals we today know and enjoy, such as cochinita pibil, one of the most traditional gastronomical specialties, and one of the best known in the rest of the country.

Also there are the delicious salbutes and panuchos, made with hand made corn tortillas, fried and covered in black beans, shredded turkey or chicken meat, lettuce, purple onion, and xnipec sauce; the papadzules, made with tortillas stuffed with hard boiled egg, pumpkin seed sauce, bathed in tomato and habanero sauce; lime soup, much alike chicken broth but with a subtle taste of lime; stuffed cheese, as well as the traditional poc-chuc and tikinxic fish, marinated in achiote, then enveloped in banana leaves and baked, to be then enjoyed with a tasty tomato and habanero sauce.

Habanero chili, considered to be among of the hottest in the world, is widely used in all its forms to give a very unique taste to food. The very hot xnipec sauce is made with it, it includes lime juice, onion, and roasted then ground habaneros.

Other regional traditional meals, although maybe not as widely known due to being more homemade, are: three meats stew, chocolomo, pibil chicken, bean with pork, motuleño eggs, lentil stew, strained tamales, and vaporcitos.

To drink, there is the delicious rice horchata, lime and chaya shake, lime water, drinks made of sour orange, soursop and pitahaya, as well as the refreshing trolebuses, sorbets and granizados (served on crushed ice) that we can enjoy in the shade of a leafy tree at Paseo Montejo. Another traditional drink is the exquisite xtabentun, better known as “liquor of the Gods”, made with honey and anise.

Desserts, also an example of the region’s great gastronomical quality, give a perfect finishing touch to a special meal or dinner. Most are made with regional fruit, such as the papaya, nance fruit or ciricote sweets, and there is the tasty coconut creams or cocadas, and the “poor gentleman”, always delighting the most demanding tastes.







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