If you think of Yucatecan cuisine, you may think of Cochinita Pibil; However, the state’s gastronomic wealth goes further. One way to get to know this cultural scene is through the second edition of the Sabores de Yucatán Festival, which will bring together the most important actors in the international gastronomic industry and national chefs with the aim of creating a synergy and strengthening the culinary area of the entity.
Michelle Fridman, Secretary of Tourism Promotion of Yucatán (Sefotur), explained that Mérida will host 3 simultaneous events of high relevance for the gastronomic industry: The Best Chef Award (which for the first time leaves Europe), Concourse Mondial de Bruxelle (where the best wines in the world participate) and Barra México.
Likewise, the festival will offer a wide variety of activities from November 16 to 20, such as market tours, the Mercadito de Sabores with more than 68 Yucatecan producers, 6-hand dinners in different restaurants (menus made with the collaboration of international chefs will be offered from Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom, among others), gastronomic circuits, take overs, as well as panels and conferences.
Yucatán: a center of flavors and aromas
Every Mexican cuisine has elements that give it unique textures, aromas and flavors, Yucatán is no exception.
One of the restaurants that will participate in this second edition of the Sabores de Yucatán Festival is Ixi’im, by Mexican chef Luis Ronzón, who believes that traditional Yucatecan cuisine has techniques and ingredients that make it unique.
“When one talks about Yucatecan cuisine, the first ingredients that come to mind are axiote, sour orange, oregano, habanero chili, queso pelota, pumpkin seeds, which are different from the one used in the center of the country,” emphasizes the chef.
Ronzón considers that Pib plays a fundamental role in Yucatecan cuisine by giving dishes smoky and toasted flavors thanks to the use of tree branches such as oak, coupled with the fact that it is a technique that no other region of the country has, which makes it “one of the main differentiators of Yucatecan gastronomy.”
On the subject of dishes, the chef gives recognition to the tamales that are prepared at Hanal Pixan (the equivalent of Day of the Dead in the rest of the country), the errados (which consists of a mixture of spices and is influenced by Middle East), the Relleno Negro, the papadzules, the kibis (a type of fried croquette with Lebanese influence made with cheese and pork), the salbutes, the castacan or the Is Waaj.
Likewise, he highlights traditional Yucatecan or Mayan drinks, such as saká (a corn atole slightly fermented with melipona honey) or balché (created from the bark of the balché tree, a little cinnamon and some usually add pine nuts).
Although Luis Ronzón creates contemporary dishes at Ixi’im, he recognizes that he is inspired by Yucatecan culinary techniques, “the influence of traditional cuisine on contemporary cuisine is seen, felt, smelled; You can try it and immediately notice that it is Yucatecan without being traditional.”
For the culinary expert, the key to preserving Yucatecan cuisine is to get closer to the traditions and roots: “I believe that always, at least as a cook, you should have this map of elements of traditional cuisine on your radar and that can only be achieved by getting closer to a cook, in the villages, studying and researching. At the end of the day, we, the citizens, are the ones who make them, we have the responsibility of knowing techniques and ingredients that are from the region.”