Sometimes, while you’re in Yucatán, you come across mysterious foods, whether they’re in a shop window, or carried by street vendors in what look like fish tanks. These snacks, with their unique flavors, are cherished delights enjoyed by Yucatecos day and night. So, get ready to tantalize your taste buds: here are some of the most popular and easily found Yucatecan snacks.
Kibis, Piedras, and Polcanes
When it comes to Yucatecan street food staples, the perfect trifecta includes Kibis, Piedras, and Polcanes. Let me quickly explain what each one is made of. Kibis have wheat and ground meat as their basic ingredients, resulting in a crunchy outer layer. They have a meatball-like shape but are longer; some are filled with Queso de Bola (Edam cheese), and they’re typically served with red onion, cabbage, and Habanero pepper. Now, Piedras (stones) are small balls of dough filled with beans, with a crispy texture. Polcanes, whose name derives from the Maya word “Pool Kaan,” meaning snake’s head, are similar to Piedras: round but more flattened, and filled with Ibes (white beans). Both can be served in the same way as Kibis.
The vendors of this iconic trio are easy to identify. They often move around on tricycles, motorcycles, or Mototaxis carrying their products in glass boxes. If they’re moving, they’ll shout out “Kibi, Kibi”. You can easily find them outside schools, government offices, bus stops, or at soccer and baseball games. You have to try them; you will be pleasantly surprised.
Hojaldras and other bread delicacies
When it comes to baked goods, a local specialty that’s gone national is the mouthwatering Hojaldra, whether plain or filled with ham and cheese. Hojaldras are made with puff pastry dough, ham, local Deisy cheese, and sugar. Their preparation is somewhat complicated, as they need to achieve a crispy and puffed consistency. They’re extremely popular among Yucatecos, so you have to be careful not to let your neighbors snatch them away from you. Although you can find them in any bakery, you will also come across them in Peceras outside convenience stores, schools, and offices, and you may even see shops dedicated exclusively to making them. Hojaldras are also known as “Pastelitos,” especially when they are sold in sports stadiums.
Other bread creations from Yucatán that have gained popularity worldwide are Tutis, filled with white cheese; Cocotazo, a salty and hard bread with four protruding round bumps (known as “Chuchulucos” by Yucatecos); and Bolitas de Queso, which are crunchy yet soft and sweet cream cheese puffs.
This list would be incomplete without the Sandwichón, which amazes and intrigues more than one visitor to our state. Sandwichón is usually available in two varieties: the traditional one is made with cheese spread and ham salad, along with other ingredients, like bell peppers. The second one is the “confetti” or white Sandwichón, which consists of layers of the aforementioned spreads, a layer of strawberry jam, and a topping of cream cheese with chopped nuts.
You can buy Sandwichón at some streets in Mérida’s Centro, and at almost any bakery. There are also specialized stores, and a quick Facebook search will surely yield more than one homemade option for sale. On this same social media platform, you’ll also find party platters (Plato de Fiesta) that include more Yucatecan delicacies. These platters commonly feature a slice of Sandwichón, a Vaporcito (tamal), Arrolladitos (small versions of Sandwichón), and other traditional snacks.
Have you decided which one to try first? Take your time, I promise they will all make you very happy.
By Fernanda Pacheco
Yucatecan tourismologist, starting in the fascinating world of writers and content creation. Ready to show the world Yucatán’s purity.
Photography by Yucatán Today for use in Yucatán Today.
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