It’s always a great time to visit Yucatán, but if you’re here this weekend, 24 hours every day won’t be enough for all there is to do. In addition to the anticipated Jicama Festival in Maxcanú and the Jazz Festival in Valladolid, it turns out that from November 16 to 20, 2023, Yucatán will be the epicenter of great food worldwide.
So, first and foremost, whether you’re visiting for the Second Sabores de Yucatán (Flavors of Yucatán) Festival or simply happened to be here to enjoy it, welcome! To make the most of your visit, let me give you a glimpse into the culinary scene of our state.
Mérida, Yucatán’s state capital, has suddenly become a true melting pot, with residents and visitors joining us from every corner of the world (elsewhere in México included). We now get to enjoy international cuisine, tropicalized to different extents, yes, but with a variety that, a few years ago, Meridanos couldn’t even dream of.
For context, Yucatán’s geographical location left the state physically and culturally isolated from the rest of México for centuries. In the 80s, for example, American powdered milk was more readily available locally than the pasteurized milk the rest of México had access to. That’s how an ingredient as exotic as the Dutch Edam cheese is found in Yucatán a second (and very loving) home.
That’s why in traditional Yucatecan cuisine you won’t find green salsa, or the Jalapeño, Serrano, Ancho, or Chipotle peppers that are so common in Mexican food. Our local traditional food is a whole other ballgame. Edam cheese (known locally as Queso de Bola, or “ball cheese”) is only one of several European ingredients, such as olives and capers, that were blended with local ingredients like banana leaves, annatto seeds, Pepita, and more widely available proteins like pork and turkey, to create a unique cuisine, prepared either underground or on a three-stone hearth, far from any outside influence.
However, in this new landscape where Mérida is better connected to the world than ever, these flavors finally get the chance to be mixed with other ingredients and preparations, opening new universes of possibility for our palates. The creativity of our local chefs, the ingenuity of chefs who have come to share their talents with Yucatán, and the fusion of local and international ingredients make for an innovative cuisine that’s brimming with potential, and which adds a new dimension to a centuries-old culinary tradition. The results will for sure delight and surprise you.
And, I mean, descriptions are great, but there’s nothing like getting out there to try and enjoy the many options at your fingertips during the Sabores de Yucatán Festival and year-round. I truly hope you enjoy our food as much as the Yucatán Today team does. Welcome to Yucatán, and bon appétit!
By Alicia Navarrete
Communicologist born circumstantially in México City, but who says “uay” since 1985. Life has allowed me to see the world, which in turn has allowed me to discover how much I love the place where I live
Photography by Hacienda Ochil, Carlos Guzmán, and Elizabeth Llanes for use in Yucatán Today.
Esta entrada también está disponible en: ES