Fragrant and tangy, Yucatecan cuisine delights the palate with flavors unique to the region. The distinct regional cuisine of Yucatan state incorporates many of the ingredients traditionally used in Mayan cooking including corn, chocolate, wild turkey, squash, chiles and tomatoes, with European ingredients such as pork and oranges from the Spanish and edam cheese from the Dutch. Yucatecan cuisine differs from traditional Mexican cuisine in part due to the Yucatan region’s geographic isolation from other parts of Mexico and its European, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and indigenous influences. Many of the delectable dishes that you’ll find on the menus at restaurants in Merida, Mexico are not traditionally prepared in other parts of the country.
Two seasonings that are frequently used in Mayan cooking include achiote (sauce made from ground annatto seeds) and pipian (sauce made from ground pumpkin or squash seeds). Regional dishes such as cochinita pibil (roasted suckling pig) and pollo pibil (chicken) are prepared by marinating the meats in achiote sauce, and papadzules (tacos filled with hard boiled eggs) are served with pipian sauce.
Other traditional Yucatecan dishes that you’ll find at restaurants in Merida, Mexico include sopa de lima (chicken and tortilla soup with lime), poc chuc (pork marinated in sour orange juice), pollo ticuleño (chicken baked in banana leaves), pavo en relleno negro (turkey in a black chile paste) and pavo en escabeche (spice rubbed turkey with cloves and black peppercorn). Merida is one of Mexico’s top culinary destinations, and a local delicacy that you simply must try when dining at a Mérida restaurant is queso relleno (edam cheese stuffed with spiced ground meat).
Finally, head for Merida’s market and central plaza, where you’ll find street food and snacks unique to the region including salbutes (cooked tortillas served with turkey, avocado, lettuce and tomato), panuchos (fried tortillas filled with black beans and topped with chicken or turkey, avocado, lettuce and pickled onions) and marquesitas (cheese filled crepes).