Mayan Food is part of the Mayan culture which is still alive today, and many people in Yucatan Mexico are proud to be part of this culture.
Due to the fact that for many years we were totally disconnected from the rest of Mexico, traditional Yucatecan food is absolutely unique.
With a more European and Caribbean flavor, it is not very common in other parts of Mexico. It is considered an un-mexican food by many people.
The opposite is also true; many dishes from the traditional Mexican cuisine (as we know it in the United States) were not as popular in Yucatan twenty five years ago, since then many people from the northern Mexican states have relocated to Yucatan.
Chef Brent Marsh, a native of New Zealand, who lives in the colonial city of Merida Yucatan , captured the essence of the differences that exist between Yucatecan cuisine and traditional Mexican cuisine. He said “It’s kind of like two separate cultures sharing a flag”
Yucatan offers a great number of Yucatecan Mayan Food Restaurants where you can taste these delicious traditional Mayan dishes.
Ancient Mayan Food
The main ingredients of Ancient Mayan dishes were and still are corn / maize, black beans and squash.
This basic diet has remained the same for centuries. It also includes fruits and vegetables known to most of the world such as avocado, pumpkin, papaya and mango to name a few.
Included in their diet were exotic fruits only grown in tropical climates such as: guanabana, pitahaya, mamey, sour orange, sapote, saramuyo and nance among many others.
The Mayans did not eat meat often, however, when they did, they ate deer, wild pheasant, monkey, iguana, rattle snake, wild boar and wild turkey among other animals.
They also raised turkeys and a hairless kind of dog exclusively for food. They were unfamiliar with cattle as we know it.
Yucatan is known as the land of the pheasant and the deer, due to the fact that these species were abundant in the Yucatan Peninsula and these animals were some of the main ingredients in Mayan Food.
Many Mayan recipes called for this kind of meat, although currently they have been substituted with pork and turkey.
The pheasant which is a relative of the peacock as we know it, is currently extinct due to unlimited hunting privileges, and can only be seen at the zoo. Deer hunting is not allowed anymore. Thirty years ago, deer meat (venison) was still a part of Yucatecan Mayan cuisine.