Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Isla Mujeres


Holly Moore
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hola EatNopales,

Stay in a condo? Moi? <G> The house I'm renting does have a cook who prepares great breakfasts. I will ask her to do a dinner or two and see what she comes up with.

I hate the pejorative "tourist trap," especially when referring to most of the restaurants on Isla Mujeres. A tiny little place like Renee and Renee is hardly a tourist trap. Nice people who try very hard to put out good cooking.

The same with most of the small restaurants on Isla Mujeres, and especially those in the colonias south of El Centro. Far more locals than tourists, though a lot of them do take out.

I would like to know more more about Yucatan cuisine and what to look for and try. What have I missed?

Gracias.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hola EatNopales,

Stay in a condo? Moi? <G> The house I'm renting does have a cook who prepares great breakfasts. I will ask her to do a dinner or two and see what she comes up with.

I hate the pejorative "tourist trap," especially when referring to most of the restaurants on Isla Mujeres. A tiny little place like Renee and Renee is hardly a tourist trap. Nice people who try very hard to put out good cooking.

The same with most of the small restaurants on Isla Mujeres, and especially those in the colonias south of El Centro. Far more locals than tourists, though a lot of them do take out.

I would like to know more more about Yucatan cuisine and what to look for and try. What have I missed?

Gracias.

Hi Holly,

Perhaps "tourist trap" is a bit harsh.. but how best to characterize the erosion of culinary traditions that occurs in just about every touristy locale in the world (and particularly in Mexico)? With places like Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Tulum it is very easy to observe that foreign tourist generally don't know much about the local cuisine.. might have some pre-conceived notions based on Mexican-esque restaurants that might exist where they live.. and so you have this back & forth negotiation between local entrepreneurs & tourists with an end result that is usually very different than the regional traditions.

A more subtle version of this comes from analyzing the culinary offering in touristy locales that mainly cater to locals. A great example is Progreso, the port town 20 miles north of Merida that is the primary beach destination for Merida recidents... if you contrast the culinary offering there with Merida it is VERY different. In Merida, you can go to the municipal mercado or any number of fondas outside of the tourist zones to find many places that serve the same type of home cooking that any Yucatec mom or grandma might cook for their own family... yet in Progreso.. these types of dishes are virtually impossible to find. The culinary practices of those that live in Progreso have even morphed & adapted to the touristy food... and you might argue.. well ports have different cuisine than inland communities... yes there are some differences but if you go to non-touristy fishing towns like Tizimin or Seybaplaya you see gastronomic traditions that are more in line with Merida & Campeche City than with Progreso, Isla Mujeres, Tulum etc.,

So what is Yucatec home cooking? In the steamy heat of the Yucatan, like in the rest of Mexico and Mesoamerican Central America.. you can not have a proper home meal without some kind of Soup or Stew... and usually it is the focus of the meal. The two most common progressions in a proper home cooked meal follow the:

Antojito -> Soup / Stew

and

Soup -> Grilled / Pit Roast / Fire Roasted Protein Model

Yucatecan home cooking can be described as 1,001 ways to combine Maize, Bean (Black or Lima), Pumpkin (Seed or Flesh), Tomato / Tomatillo, Chiles & Chaya with a modest portion of various proteins. I cannot stress the importance of Chaya & Pumpkin to the daily Yucatec diet... they eat those like people in Central Mexico eat Nopales & Zucchini... i.e., its eaten every day and often several times a day. It is a rare day when a Yucatec home cook omits those ingredients.

A typical Yucatec home soup (often called Puchero) might have a little chicken, turkey, pork, salted beef, fish or shrimp in its broth seasoned with achiote, lime juice, braised pumpkin and chaya + a garnish of roasted chile blanco... that soup would be served concurrently or preceded by a "dry i.e., griddled or fried not steamed" masa based dish such as Panucho, Salbute or Pan de Cazon.

Alternatively, the meal might start with a Dzotobichay (tamale with chopped Chaya, roasted pumpkin seeds & hardboiled egg interspersed throughout that is topped with a roasted tomato salsa)... then followed by a guisado ("dry stew" think of it almost like a cassoulet) of protein chunks, whole beans or lima beans, cubed pumpkin, diced tomato & recaudo paste.

Other genres of Yucatec soup include those thickened with Masa and/or Cheese and/or or Roasted Pumpkin Seeds... for example they commonly eat a soup of chopped Chaya in a masa broth, chopped Chaya & Edam Cheese thickened with a little cornstarch, or chopped Chaya in a broth of pureed pumpkin seeds... to those basic items the resourceful cook will add a variety of garnishes & seasonal ingredients for variety.

Yucatan home cooking is not only about Soups & Stews... things like Tik'n Xic, Pompano grilled in Hoja Santa leaves, Poc Chuc, Cochinita Pibil, Parrilladas (Mixed Grill Plates), Roasted Suckling Pig, Roasted Turkey, Pib roasted Venison etc, also form part of home cooking traditions and in those cases the meal would start with a thin / clear broth soup involving the basic ingredients described above.. followed by the meat centric non-stew dish + tortillas + xnipec + pureed black beans etc., but these types of meals are more of a once a week luxury than an everyday diet.

In addition to those simple dishes there are of course, more involved celebratory dishes such as Relleno Blanco (Roast Turkey in a thin White Mole), Relleno Negro (Roast Turkey in a thin very smokey Black Mole), Escabeche (Grilled Pheasant or Quail + vegetables served in a spicy Vinaigrette) etc.,

And of the Yucatan also has its seafood cocktail / raw traditions that form part of the weekend entertaining traditions.

But most meals of the week fall in the 1,001 ways to combine Maize, Beans, Tomato, Chile, Pupmkin & Chaya vein.

Edited by EatNopales (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

EatNopales, it doesn't help the erosion of tradition when every other tourist is asking where they can find a good pizza. Just look at PDC, for example, it's got a disproportionate number of Italian restaurants. You really have to go off the beaten path to find local foods, but it is possible.

There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The majority of tourists on Isla Mujeres, especially the day trippers, either spend all their time in El Centro or one of the beach clubs where the tour boats land, or they rent a golf cart and never stray from the route that circles Isla. But break away from that and spend time in the colonias and one is immersed in the day to day life and dining of non-touristy Isla. Since Isla is about 4-1/2 miles long it is easy to find traditional if one tries.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're right, Holly. We've eaten in La Gloria a few times and it was really good. There's also a place that we never found in the colony that sells puerco pubil on Sunday mornings, early, in someones back yard. First come first serve. We didn't make it because Saturday nights were always too much fun. The directions were kinda sketchy too... wandering around la Gloria in the pre-dawn trying to follow my nose just didn't appeal to me. It's been on one of the Isla blow-boards, I think that's where I first heard of it. If you happen to go, take a pic or two. I'm really curious about it.

Edited by Trev (log)

There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I heard about the guy grilling in has back yard too. Never found him so I headed to the public market in La Gloria

for Cochinita Pibil. Everything is there, the butcher selling slow roasted cochinita Pibil, a tortilla baker, and stands selling fresh squeezed orange juice. Plenty left over for a couple of lunches.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The cochinita in the La Gloria market is murderously good. There were a couple of other people selling cochinita on Sunday morning along the road from Salina Chica to La Gloria but the stuff at the market just looked so much better. There's also a little carnitas stand along that road - pretty much at Salina Chica, which is near where we stay - and that stuff is great also. It's not too far south of the crossroad that goes to Kash Keken Chuk (sp???).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

We went to isla Mujeres again in March. I wanted to clue in the Holly Eats fans on one of my favorite places that has moved.

http://www.hollyeats.com/LosAlmendros.htm

This is a place frequented almost exclusively by locals, I'm almost always the only gringo anywhere near it. As Holly reported a few years back, it was located in the parking lot just south of the ferry landing. There is now some construction going on there. Los Almendros has moved to the sidewalk on the beach on Medina just north of where the last beachside restaurant is, now north of the ferry dock about a quarter mile.

Don't have to wait until Sunday to get their conchinita pibil on a torta or a taco. A torta ordered picante, with their hot salsa, to me is my favorite bargain food ever. Great fresh bread, succulent pork (he usually tries to give you some soft insides and some crunchy outside/skin for texture) and spicy salsa for 20 pesos, about $1.70 right now. I think I'll have two. FYI, they are closed on Monday.

I'd also like to put in a plug for the Poc Chuc restaurant at the corner of Juarez and Abasolo in el Centro (different from the one at the Mercado on Guerrero). We've eaten there several times and never had anything bad. Their conchinita on Sunday is fantastic. They have a snack type thing called a picada (I think) that to me is essential Mexican food. It's a masa dough pressed into a small round disk thicker than a tortilla. They grill it on a flat top and put beans, onions and cilantro on it. So simple, so freakin' good. The texture of the dough makes the dish. They also do a mean chicken mole.

Edited by DTBarton (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...