Bienvenidos a Los Dos: Yucatan: A Culinary Expedition

About Chef David Sterling

Was Yucatecan food the world's first fusion cuisine? Possibly! It was unquestionably the first fusion cuisine to result from the explosive collision of the Old and New Worlds. With Yucatecan recipe classics such as Queso Relleno (a Gouda or Edam ball cheese stuffed with chopped meat that reveals the peninsula's Dutch influence) and Sikil P’aak (a purely Maya invention of ground pumpkin seeds and tomatoes), Chef David Sterling’s Yucatán: A Culinary Expedition is three parts cookbook – one part archaeological dig. Please check back often to discover along with us the rich and varied culture and cuisine of Yucatán.

* The Urban Matrix: Mérida

A white spot in the jungle
THERE ARE MANY THEORIES about how Mérida got her nickname "La Blanca". One suggests a reference to the network of roads made of white limestone that once linked royal cities. And yes, the white clothing of the locals is one more theory for the provenance of "The White City." 
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Feast of the Spirits

FOOD AND DEATH SEEM LIKE SUCH UNLIKELY BEDFELLOWS. And yet Hanal Pixán, or “Feast of the Spirits”, poetically combines food and death in an ancient ritual in which ancestors are revered, and everyone – living and dead alike – gets plenty to eat.

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The Lebanese connection
WELCOME TO THE EXOTIC FLAVOR OF THE MIDEAST IN YUCATÁN! Don’t be surprised when it bumps into tacos and lechón on your plate! Savor the mixture and you will begin to understand the true complexity of regional Yucatecan cuisine.
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* The Yucatecan Market

History and transformation
NO VISIT TO MÉRIDA IS COMPLETE without seeing the sprawling, colorful central market. In its present incarnation, the market is a tangled maze of alleys and warrens that is virtually impossible to pinpoint on a map.
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Seeds of Maya cuisine
ALONG WITH MAIZE AND BEANS, squash has long factored prominently in the Maya diet. While pre-Columbian peoples ate all parts of the squash – including the flesh, the flowers and even the runners – the preferred part was the seed.
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Fresh from the outback
AS A STRANGER LIVING IN A VERY STRANGE LAND, I am often jolted out of my supermarket haze by frequent reminders that many people – in fact, about half the people in the world – still live close to the land. One such reminder was recently published in Diario de Yucatán – the peninsula’s leading newspaper. It offered a whimsical yet realistic view of the fact that while some comestibles may be bought – others are caught.
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Maíz: The pulse of Maya life
THE DAILY RHYTHMS OF MAYA LIFE revolve almost exclusively around the planting, harvesting and processing of maize into food. Each step of the process is laborious and time-consuming, and demands the greater part of an entire day.
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* The People's Food

Pluperfect Pork: Chicharronerías
A CHICHARRONERÍA IS A SMALL SHOP OR RESTAURANT known for its production of chicharrón (crispy inflated pig skin) and chicharra surtida (an assortment of fried pork offal). The purpose of the chicharronerías evolved in order not to waste any part of the pig, and also as a natural by-product of the process of rendering lard.
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Wine, beer and spirits in Yucatán
THE IMAGE OF THE GUN-SLINGING, TEQUILA-SWIGGING MEXICAN spilling out of the cantina and onto a dusty street – romanticized by the Mexican film industry and later by Hollywood – has little to do with the drinking habits of Mexicans, much less of Yucatecans.
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* The Pueblos

AS LYON DID FOR THE ZESTY POTATO DISH AND HAMBURG FOR THE UBIQUITOUS MEAT SANDWICH, so the tiny town of Motul in northeastern Yucatán has lent its name to a handful of dishes now famous throughout the region. Look for the descriptor motuleño on any local menu and you’ll know at least the legendary origin of the meal you are about to eat.
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