“We knew we wanted our next trip to be a cooking trip, so Lynn got on it and came up with three options. We chose the Yucatán trip because it offered the most actual hands-on cooking…whereas the other trips offered lots of tours, demonstrations, and wine tasting. We WANTED to cook.” Ellen Thoms, Lynn Wayson

“Edible Destinations by Epitourean” at Hacienda Petac in Yucatán is exactly the trip you want to choose if you’re looking for a well-rounded, hands-on, cooking experience at an exotic, luxurious setting. Privately owned and operated, Hacienda Petac caters to just eight cooking groups a year. With up to 12 guests you will have six days of cooking tasty Yucatecan cuisine in their fabulous, Mexican tiled kitchen on a daily basis.

Yucatecan cuisine is a melody of complex flavors that are really so easy and simple to prepare. Not hot or spicy like many Mexican cuisines, the ingredients are ones that you can easily get outside of México.

Dishes we learned to cook during our week there included:

  • Pozole: a chicken and hominy stew
  • Caldillo poblano: soup with poblano chiles, corn, zucchini squash, onions, tomatoes, chicken broth, avocado, cheese and cream
  • Guacamole: smashed avocado dip eaten with tostadas
  • Pico de Gallo; onion, tomato, cilantro, and lime salsa
  • Poc Chuc: thinly sliced marinated grilled pork
  • Chiltomate: roasted tomato salsa
  • Tik in Xic: grilled fish in an annatto rub with onions and tomatoes
  • Sik il Pac: roasted and ground pumpkin seed dip
  • Shrimp tacos

The experience at Hacienda Petac, while it does include daily, hands-on cooking classes, also includes time for an excursion to the huge, typical Mexican market in the nearby, vibrant colonial city of Mérida, and a day trip to the nearby Maya pyramids at Uxmal and Choco Story, the chocolate museum. Shopping can also be organized if that is what meets your fancy.

Our group consisted of two friends from Mississippi, a couple from outside of Forth Worth, Texas, a technology woman from Virginia, two friends from Minnesota, and me, from Mérida, and “way back when” from Glen Rock, New Jersey.

Avid amateur cooks, we learned new recipes for shrimp tacos and Mexican soups. Additionally, we mastered the technique for handmade corn tortilla making, learned how to roast and sweat poblano chiles, and learned more about cooking beans. We also learned some new tropical cocktails during the daily cocktail preparation classes, which were held just before cooking the evening meal. Learning to prepare an authentic margarita, a refreshing “paloma,” a tropical “hacendado” and an “alux” always made for some fun times as we got to know each other.

We had a special treat during our stay. A local woman who makes coconut oil came and taught us the labor intensive, time consuming process of making coconut oil. Everyone was happy to have learned so much about coconut oil, its properties, benefits and uses. The teacher, Gabriela Fritz, is knowledgeable and a fervent believer in using coconut oil for health and sustainability. If you live in Mérida or nearby, she will go to your home and teach you. A group of us is thinking of having a “a coconut oil making party.”

In between the cooking, eating and taking some excursions, there is also “down time” to lounge around the pool, have a massage or mani and pedi at the spa, or just plain hang in a hammock and read a book.

If you are looking to combine a hands-on cooking school experience in Yucatán with your vacation at a very reasonable rate, consider cooking classes at Hacienda Petac.

By Judy Abbott de Mier y Terán

Map:
– Península de Yucatán