A simple question to my dad is enough to hear about an old family tradition, going back at least 50 years. “What are your earliest memories of Cochinita Pibil?” I asked my dad one day as our family sat around the table during after dinner conversations. This is how I learned about my father’s special moments as a child, when, each Sunday, my grandfather would take my father and uncles to visit “Doña Chabe” in the Chuburná market. This is how they started every Sunday morning: eating delicious Tortas de Cochinita Pibil (our renowned version of Achiote-based pulled pork sandwiches) with the family.
Cochinita Pibil in Yucatecos’ daily life
Like my father, I am sure that every Yucateco has some anecdote related to Cochinita: a favorite stand where they make the best Tortas (sandwiches), or a memorable event where this famous dish was served.
Cochinita is synonymous with Yucatán and recognized as king in our Yucatecan gastronomy. It is special to, and consumed by people of every background. Good Cochinita can be found in the most sophisticated of restaurants as well as in the markets and street stands, making it accessible to everyone.
How and when to eat Cochinita Pibil
Anyone who visits Yucatán will note that Cochinita is an incredibly versatile dish. You will find it served in its original presentations: tacos and sandwiches. However nowadays, you will also find it served in Panuchos and Polcanes, other Yucatecan specialties.
Just as we like to experiment with its presentation, in Yucatán we love to get creative with the best time to eat Cochinita. A Torta de Cochinita can be the star at any lunch or dinner; however, as many know, one of the most common times to enjoy a Torta de Cochinita is in the morning.
It is common to get up early on the weekend and head out for breakfast at our favorite Cochinita stand, or even stop by quickly to grab a Torta on the way to work on weekdays. Our love of Cochinita is so fervent that after a night of hard partying, the first instinct of most Yucatecans is to stop in and get a Torta before heading home. Some caterers even include it as an early morning snack option for events expected to be all-nighters.
At the end of the day, Cochinita is a dish that has no limits as far as schedule, presentation, or situation goes. For Yucatecos, Cochinita is a very important part of our reality and life, as it is a way to gather together and keep our traditions alive, as well as a simple (and delicious) joy in our daily lives.
By Regina Zumárraga
Communicologist specialized in food and product photography. I’m passionate about learning about the culture and gastronomy of different places. In my free time, you can find me at the beach.
Photography by Natalia Bejarano Calero for its use in Yucatán Today.
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