Maya food and culture in Mexico

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IMG_9796If you thought that the world’s only pyramids are in Egypt, you’d be wrong. The famous Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula has a magnificent pyramid which was constructed by the Mayans, and is one of the new seven wonders of the world.

The Maya civilisation flourished in approximately 250AD to 900AD and whilst there are many theories as to why the empire collapsed, no one knows the exact reason why.

However, in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico (and elsewhere in South America), there is still a large population of contemporary Maya people who keep the culture alive. If you are lucky enough to have the chance to visit that region, then you should take the opportunity to experience traditional Maya food, which holds similarities to what you might consider to be ‘Mexican’ food, but is distinct.

IMG_9873Sopa de lima is a lime soup which is traditional to Yucatan. Generally prepared with shredded chicken or turkey, the citrus-flavoured soup is served on top of crispy fried tortilla (like croutons), and works as a perfect palate cleanser before you move along to the next dishes.

Cochinita pibil is a marinated pork dish which is very famous in the area. You can eat it shredded and placed on top of soft tortillas (which are much smaller than the ones found in supermarkets in the UK), which are then in turn topped with pickled onions, sour cream and cheese.

Most main courses are served with rice and refried beans. The latter is a dish of pureed beans (usually pinto), to which spices are added.

You can also find more traditional Mexican style dishes such as:

Fajitas: effectively Mexican style wraps. Meat (often chicken) is cooked with peppers, onions and spices and then wrapped in soft tortillas.

IMG_9874Chilaquiles: this is a delicious mixture of tortillas with tomato sauce, cooked until the tortillas are soft and then topped with sour cream, cheese, onions and avocado. Sometimes pulled chicken can be added to the mix.

And of course, along with every meal you will also find fried tortillas alongside dips of guacamole and tomato salsa … and a shot or two of Tequila. Delicioso!

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