Many restaurants in Mexico claim to have 100% pure Mayan food, that my friends it´s a lie. Contemporary Mayan food today is a combination of other cultural influences such as Spanish, Yucatecan Mayan, Arabic and some North African among others. Many of the influences mentioned earlier were trading in colonial times, and it spread through the Caribbean.
The basic ingredient of the Yucatecan cuisine is “Maíz” (Maize or Corn) most of the dishes come with the famous Tortillas. Another very important ingredient of the mayan diet was fruit. One can see that many dishes have bananas, pineapple, mamey (which is a local fruit) and mangos among others. Traditionally, Mayans would wrap their food with banana leaves and buried it, in underground ovens and with the elevated temperatures , the results end up being a culinary delicacy.
You can have a taste of this in the national Dia de los muertos (Day of the dead) where you can go to small towns surrounding the city of Merida, and personally see how people cook the famous Pibes with these hundred year cooking style.
We like to think that, there’s something for every kind of person, whether you like a soup, in which case you could have the delicious Sopa de lima (lime soup) or if you like meat, you can try Cochinita pibil (buried pork).
Many people that are first timers in Mexico are afraid of eating the local cuisine because they think is like Indian food which is extremely spicy.
Is true that the general population in Mexico like eating with hot sauces to flavor their favorites meals, and that some of our dishes might be a little too spicy for many foreigners that are not used to some local ingredients like peppers, but surprisingly the further south you go, the less spicy/hot the food is.
Also Mexico is famous for its gastronomical diversity, which means there´s a lot of options that one can choose from.
If you’re in Merida and you want to taste real Yucatecan Cuisine without leaving the city, the The Yucatan Post recommends La Chaya Maya located in calle 62 x 57 Colonia Centro (Downtown Merida).
It is a mayan themed restaurant where you can see the mestiza (woman dressed in typical clothing called hipil) making handmade tortillas, and if you like you also can order mucbipollo any time of the year, which is usually served only during late October.
Many of the dishes are cooked in an oven made of stone and wrapped in banana leaves, so this provides the food a genuine mayan taste.