Maya Recipes

Maya cookbook, Yucatan
            Yucatan was named through a misunderstanding.  When Columbus' men saw land, they stopped a canoeful of Maya and asked someone the name of the land over there.  The man looked blank, and some helpful soul answered "He didn't understand you" (ma' u yu'u' ka t'aan i or something very close; see Restall 1998:122).  The Spanish assumed the accented part of this was the name of the place. 
Yucatan is the heartland of the "Yucatec" Maya—the people who actually call themselves Maya.  (The name has spread to all speakers of related languages.  "Yucatec" as a linguistic term is something of a misnomer; "Yucateco" in Spanish refers not to the Maya in particular, but to anybody from Yucatan state.)  There are perhaps a million Yucatec speakers, the vast majority in Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche.  The few others are in Belize, northern Guatemala, and Chiapas, and more recently in Mexico City, California, Texas, and elsewhere.
      The cuisine of the Yucatan Peninsula is different from that of the rest of Mexico.  They share tortillas and boiled beans, and the general plan of tamales and the like, and the Spanish heritage is more or less the same, but all these took different local forms quite early.  Yucatecans refer to the rest of the country simply as "Mexico," as if it were a foreign nation.
Until Porfirio Diaz forced the railroad lines through to Merida, Yucatan's principal trade ties were not with "Mexico" but with Cuba.  Contact was through Campeche and (later) Progreso, by sea.  Mexico had to be reached by sea also--sailing to Veracruz.  It is not surprising that Yucatan is a museum of Cuban influences, especially in the cuisine.  Afro-Cuban influences are shared.  So are achiote, and a preference for black beans.  Noteworthy is the use of bitter orange juice where other parts of continental Latin America would use lime juice and where Peninsular Spain would usually use vinegar.  Bitter orange is a different species from sweet orange (Citrus aurantium instead of C. sinensis), and has to be grown specially.  It came with the Spanish to Cuba, very early, and became important there.  Use spread to Haiti, where it is used in vodun ("voodoo") as well as ordinary cooking (Paul and Cox 1995).  Its use, especially as a thinner for achiote, is a distinctly Cuban trait.
Through too much of Yucatan's history, getting any food at all was hard enough.  Spanish colonial practice involved heavy taxes and fees, and Mexican independence did not improve the situation.   In 1846, many Maya (and not a few Spanish speakers) rebelled, and the "Caste War" raged for two years in the western Yucatan and many more years in the east (Dumond 1998; Fariss 1984).  Independent Maya established Quintana Roo as their own realm, de facto independent of Mexico until the 20th century.  Meanwhile, in central and western Yucatan, henequen took off as a major crop.  Conditions on the henequen plantations were horrific, involving virtual slavery and constant beatings; John Turner's Barbarous Mexico provided a harrowing eyewitness account (Turner 1911).  Malnutrition was universal, and pockets of it persist to this day, as I have personally observed all too often.  Economic development, especially the growth of tourism, has brought better times in some areas, but it brings its own problems, including environmental damage.  Among other things, Maya have been dispossessed from their land; overfishing and overhunting have cut the protein supply of the poor.  Subsistence cultivation still pays well in much of the peninsula.  (For superb accounts of Yucatec Maya agriculture, emphasizing its skills and its wonderful adaptation to a harsh environment, see Terán and Rasmussen 1993; Terán, Rasmussen and Cauich 1998; Tuxill 2005.  Alas, all these three are hard to find.)  However, land is getting scarce, especially in Yucatan state, where farmers have reached or passed the limits of sustainable agriculture.
Throughout Yucatan and Quintana Roo, cooking is more or less the same.  Flavors are subtle.  Especially in the rural areas, spices sharpen the flavors of the main ingredients but are barely perceptible on their own.  Spices--except for the native oregano and achiote--were a rare luxury until recently, and still are in many areas.  Formerly local dishes have spread over the region; eggs a la Motul (huevos motuleños) and pork a la Valladolid are menu staples throughout.  Quintana Roo cooking is a variant of Yucatan's, with one major exception: the coastal ports are more "Caribbean." 
Old-time cuisine was based on maize, beans, and squash, with game and a few vegetables.  From ancient times, the Maya made full use of tomatoes and chiles; surely k'utbi p'ak and k'utbi ik are not new.  Given the conservatism of rural ways in Yucatan, we can safely assume that the simpler recipes below, such as ts'anchak and ts'ik, date back to ancient Maya days.  For one thing, they have Maya names.  Recipes with Spanish names are likely to be newer.
Most recipes have undergone "mestizoization" (yes, that is a real word) in Yucatan.  In the peninsula, the Maya became a so-called "caste," rather than an isolated minority.  Poor rural workers, and even poor urban workers, spoke Maya.  Rich people spoke Spanish.  Many Maya had appreciable Spanish ancestry; conversely, many "mestizos" have no discernible Spanish ancestry. The Maya assimilated many foreigners; I know Maya who have backgrounds ranging from African and Korean to Chinese, Lebanese, and Scandinavian.  The "middle class" and ordinary townsfolk possessed a fusion culture of Spanish/Mexican and Maya.  They are usually bilingual. In the old days, even the Spanish-speaking elite had Maya cooks and maids--the children often spoke Maya before they spoke Spanish.  Linguistic diversity persists because of need.  If you talk about rural life in the Yucatan, you wind up using Maya.  There simply are no Spanish words for the foods, birds, plants, technological items, rocks, soil types or anything else you need to talk about.  Conversely, if you want to get along in the urban world, you have to speak Spanish.  Maya words for urban and bureaucratic phenomena exist, but if you are Maya you still have to talk to too many non-Maya-speaking people for that to do you much good—so you learn Spanish. 
Today, modernization has eliminated the tight caste structure and opened up the social system, allowing the development of a substantial Maya elite.
The mestizo culture blended Maya and Spanish ingredients and techniques.  Mestizos also created the wonderful dances and costumes that now appear, nostalgically, at "folclorico" performances.  (Incidentally, people with the same mixed culture call themselves "Maya" in some places, "Mestizo" in others, for complex historic reasons; see Hervik 1999.)  Yucatan is attached to its past, which it shamelessly romanticizes.  Mérida, in particular, works at preserving a true romantic spirit.  The food is one link with the past, as well as the best diet for the present. 
            Yucatecan food is quite different from the other Maya cuisines: highland Chiapan, highland Guatemalan, and Salvadorean. Yucatan developed its own mix of pre-Columbian and European.  The names reveal it.  Many of the dishes have hybrid "mestiza-Maya" names, such as chocolomo, codzitos and salbutes (see below).
            Even more specialized is a subtradition localized in central Chetumal, the capital and southernmost city of Quintana Roo.  Migrants from Belize brought Anglo-Caribbean cooking to this urban center.  "Rice and beans," "pigtails," "pudding," and "boil-up" have become Spanish words in that favored city (see Renee Petrich, ms. and 1995; on Caribbean cooking in general, Wilk 2006).
            The dishes now considered quintessentially Yucatecan are Maya dishes with Spanish additions or Spanish dishes with Maya influences.  Arab-Andalusian dishes, once common in Mérida (see e.g. Aguirre 1980), have become rare. 
Tortillas, the Maya staple, are probably a recent borrowing from central Mexico—possibly even a post-Spanish introduction.  In Yucatan, tortillas are not patted out hand-to-hand in the usual Mexican style delightfully termed "applauding."  They are pressed out on a banana leaf (or, today, a cellophane sheet.)  They are then toasted on a flat pottery griddle or functional equivalent.
Most Maya still raise their own corn and make their own nixtamal (maize boiled with lime), but they don't grind it now; they take it to the mill.  However, most households still make their own tortillas.  Since an adult doing farm work eats 30 or more tortillas a day, this means plenty of time invested.
A thicker tortilla is a xkakatak' ("little double-size").
The most ancient foods in Mayaland—now confined largely to the Yucatan Peninsula--are maize breads cooked in the pib (see Taube 1989a).  These now are almost exclusively ceremonial in use.  Maya ceremonies survive, especially those connected with rain and agriculture.  Their traditional foods, including mukbipollo, sikil waj and others, still appear on the offering altar, an improvised table set up in the open and shaded with leaves. 
  The most important traditional ceremony today is probably the ch'a'chaak—a ceremony to ask the storm gods for rain.  Other ceremonies of many sorts are generally called loj (pronounced "loh"; for excellent accounts of all these ceremonies, including the foods, see Love 2004).  These are rituals to ask for good fortune or thank the deities for fortune granted.  A loj may be a hanlikool, "food for the garden," in which food is offered to the forest and field spirits.  There are loj for the hives and the domestic animals.  There is even a loj ts'on ("ceremony of the gun"), to re-consecrate a shotgun after it has killed several game animals.  The Maya are careful hunters; they try to avoid killing too much game, and they feel that the spirits will punish them if they do not treat animals and hunting seriously.  A gun that has killed several animals has depleted its luck, and must have its blessing renewed by a ceremony.  The loj is a significant outlay of effort and wealth, and reminds the gun owner that hunting is serious business, supervised by strong powers such as the yumilk'aax, "Lords of the Forest," and Siip, the Spirit of the Deer. 
Today, as modern beliefs spread and old gods die, a loj is apt to be known by its Spanish name acta de gracia ("act of grace" or "thanks") and to be seen as a general festival to give thanks to God and to the human community for good harvests.  But the tradition goes on, corn bread and all, even among staunch Protestants who have no patience with cha'chaak.  Sometimes a whole steer is butchered, cut up, and cooked in a giant pib.
For a ceremony, the jmeen or "hmen" (pronounced "men"—the j or h is silent)—the ritual officiant—lays out offerings on a table.  These offerings make a formal pattern representing the cosmos.  Among them are ritual breads, and calabashes of turkey stew (now more usually chicken stew).  Another common ritual maize food is saka', lime-processed maize dough mixed up in water (see Glossary).  This is a necessary part of most ceremonies.  It is served in calabashes—small bowls made from the fruit of the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete).  The huge round hollow fruit is cut in half and the halves cleaned and dried to make these bowls (known as luuch). 
The main ritual drink is baalche':  Honey fermented in water, flavored and preserved from spoiling with the bark of the baalche' tree (Lonchocarpus spp.).  Often, the ceremony also requires traditional cigarettes—native hand-processed tobacco rolled in corn husks.  Ceremonies can involve a very informal table with small offerings, for minor curing or good-luck rites.  On the other hand, a ch'a'chaak may go on for days.  A minor curing rite can involve only two or three people; a major thanksgiving loj for a community, or a major ch'a'chaak, may involve hundreds. 
Ritual breads often represent the cosmos.  Common is a bread layered with seven layers of maize dough alternating with six of sikil, representing the thirteen layers of the universe.  Or a bread may have a sikil cross, or five spots in a pentagram, or some other sacred pattern.  One jmeen told Betty Faust that the maize dough represents the flesh and the sikil the blood (Betty Faust 1998 and personal communication).  Presumably the reference is to the creation of humans from maize dough by the gods of pre-Columbian Maya religion; the gods shed their blood on the dough to animate it.
Various special corncakes, moulded into the shapes of animals, sacred trees, sacred mountains, and other important forms, have been made for thousands of years for ceremonies, and they are made today.  Dr. Taube has shown that certain pictures of lords offering up plates of food show these fancy waj, and I have seen some very similar ones at rural ceremonies.  They are scarcely more edible than the salt-dough bread sculptures of the European world, but the Maya--who wasted nothing in the old days--break them up into stew.  They are worth making if you like food sculpture, just to add a touch of color. 
With the ritual breads are served turkey stews—or, today, chicken—in which the birds are cut up and cooked with achiote and other native flavorings, the broth being thickened with corn meal.  These stews, bright yellow or red from the achiote, are ancient ritual dishes.
Many other corn preparations, used in rituals as well as home life, are now being forgotten.  This is especially true of preparations that use honey.  Honey was formerly a major staple of the Maya, but commercial sale now preempts much of the domesticated-bee supply, and wild hives have become rare because of forest degradation.
Anyone wandering through the food stalls of the Mérida market cannot help but be struck by the colors of the stews: brilliant yellow, rich glossy red, opalescent white and intense jet black.  This is partly due to use of such dishes in the many rituals involving the winds or gods of the four directions.  In traditional Maya thought, east is yellow; west is red; north is white; south is black.  The center, our world of plants, is green.  To this day, the ch'a-chaak rite is oriented toward the east, and foods offered in it are intensely yellow.  (I am reminded of the Chinese equivalents:  North black, west white, south red, east green, and center yellow.  Originally, these referred to dominant colors in the soil and vegetation in the respective areas of China.)  Each Maya direction had its ritual stew, presumably once offered to the god of that compass point.  The stews survive, traditionally made with turkey, now usually with chicken.  White color comes from whitish corn meal; yellow and red from progressively stronger admixtures of achiote, which is intensely red but dilutes to a brilliant yellow in small quantities.  The black is the most interesting:  Chiles are burned—the cooks taking great care not to stand downwind—and the resulting glossy-black material crushed into the stew.  The result is more interesting to see than to eat. 
Another ceremony of importance is the haanal pixaan, "food of souls," the Day of the Dead, November 1 (see Rodríguez Lazcano 1991).  This is a Catholic ceremony, celebrated all over Mexico.  It had pre-Columbian equivalents that show themselves in modern celebrations.  This is a day when the souls of the dead return to visit their homes.  Food for them is laid out on an altar decorated with flowers, and with photographs and memorabilia of the deceased.  Their favorite foods and drinks appear, as well as pib-baked chicken pies (mukbipollos; see below), chocolate drinks, stews, ritual corn breads and drinks, and fruit.  Traditionally, people placed foods on leaves of mak'olam.  
Many religious ceremonies, some with indigenous Maya flavors, punctuate the year.  The Dance of the Pig's Head involves a complex group dance that weaves through the town and marketplace; the head dancer carries a pig's head on a tray.  Gremios—religious organizations—help out at major festivals such as Easter and the saints' days, holding parades and feasts.  Every town has its protective saint or holy image, and the day of this patron is always honored with some activity.  These ceremonial cycles break the monotony of small-town life, and provide an excuse to eat well. 
Not infrequently people drink well, too.  Overconsumption of rum is a chronic problem at religious festivals (as it is in much of Latin America).  Bishop Landa already noted this:  "The Indians are very dissolute in drinking and becoming intoxicated..." (Landa 1937:35).  They were drinking baalche', the honey mead flavored and preserved by infusing bark or roots of baalche' (Lonchocarpus spp.).  Today's rum is very much stronger.  The communities where I work are proudly independent and are strongly influenced by Calvinist Protestantism.  Both these factors militate against alcohol abuse.  At the other extreme are some of the old henequen towns in Yucatan state, where economic decline and social breakdown are associated with heavy drinking.  A common drink is cheap "white lightning" rum, known as chak pool—"red head"—from the red wax used to seal the bottles.
Yucatan has a "national" liqueur, Xtabentun.  This is theoretically flavored with the xtabentun flower, which is said to keep witches away.  (I must say, I haven't been bothered by witches since trying it.)  Actually, if it has xtabentun flowers in it, I can't detect the taste; it appears indistinguishable from its ancestor, standard Spanish anisette liqueur.  Sometimes it is flavored with Yucatan honey, but usually it's just cane alcohol, sugar, and anise.  (See recipe for Aniseta in the Chiapas section.)  It comes in sweet or dry forms.  Most, including the best, comes from Valladolid and the area around same.
Yucatan also produces excellent beer; Leon Negra is a particularly good dark beer.
            Recently, "sisal," a local counterpart of tequila and mescal, has been produced from henequen or sisal agaves.  Yucatan made its fortune on henequen and sisal fibre, until rayon replaced them for most uses and cheaper competition also came from henequen produced in Africa and Brazil.  Old plantations, gone to seed, supply the "sisal" drink, made from the sap of flowering henequen and sisal plants.  The drink is not up to the finest tequila, but it is better than the general run of mescal.
Culinary Specifics
            An important characteristic of Yucatecan cuisine is that onions and garlic often roasted.  The distinctive taste of thoroughly roasted and mashed onion or garlic is one of the real "signature flavors" of Yucatan.  Traditionally, they are roasted over an open flame till the skins blacken.  In the kitchen, the broiler does the best job.  You can bake them, or roast them in a covered frying pan.
            The other recipe chapters of this book are arranged in a traditional cookbook fashion, but I have taken the liberty of arranging this chapter according to local thinking, since it makes the task of explaining everything a good deal easier.  I begin with basic maize staple foods.  Then follows a section for recados.  Then come relishes and salsas.  Then tamales and related foods.  Only then do I move on to the traditional soups, fish, flesh, fowl, desserts, and drinks.
Classic Yucatan dishes included game and corn breads cooked in the pib and stews and soups cooked on the k'oben hearth. The Maya word for "stew" or "sauce for meats," equivalent to Aztec "mole," is k'ool (pronounced something like "cole").
            A characteristic of Yucatan is the profusion of spice pastes, mostly based on chiles and achiote, known as recados.  This is one of those Caribbean features; similar pastes occur in Cuba and other islands.  This is a local pronunciation of the Spanish word recaudo, "collection."  The Maya word for these and any spice mix is just xak', "mix."  Recados can be bought readymade in Yucatan, but elsewhere they must be made at home.  They are usually sold in bulk in the markets by special stands.  They are also available in little rectangular blocks ("cubes") that contain a cubic inch or so of recado.  These cubes are sometimes found in North American markets that have a Caribbean clientele, but should be avoided unless you know your spices well.  In the United States, cubes of recado and of achiote paste are often very adulterated and very stale.  Thus, in the following recipes, when the recipe calls for a cube, use a cubic inch of homemade recado. 
            A special section of the following is devoted to recados.
           
One recipe needs to be here, as it is basic to tamales and much else that follows:
Maya Lard
Take fat cuts of pork.  Chop fine and fry over low heat, adding some water.  Stir to avoid sticking.  Or: cut into larger chunks and bake (adding water) in moderate oven till the drippings are rendered out and the meat is quite dry.  In either case, enough water must be added so that the meat juices do not cook out or dry up.  The goal is a mix of fat and meat juices, not just fat.
BASIC MAIZE FOODS
Bread of the Milpa
This is a ritual dish for the Food of the Milpa (janlikool) and Praying for Rain (ch'a chaak) ceremonies.  The number 13, the masa, and the sikil were all sacred to the ancient Maya.  The thirteen layers represent the thirteen layers of the cosmos.  These breads are sometimes marked with sacred designs in achiote-colored oil or stock, as well as with sikil. 
The dish is included here for ethnographic interest.  The culinary interest is slight.
2 lb. masa
2 cups cooked beans (black-eyed peas or black beans) (optional)
6 oz. sikil
Salt
Banana leaves
Make thick tortillas of the masa.  Stack them with layers of sikil and beans in between, till they are seven tortillas high (13 layers in all).  Wrap in banana leaves and cook in pib.
Variant:  Piim waj
Maya for "thick corncake."  Sometimes reduplicated (pimpim) or translated into Spanish as gordita.
Make a giant tortilla: 1 foot across and 1/4" thick.  Wrap in leaves and bake in pib.  Or it can be cooked, unwrapped, on a griddle.
This is much better if the masa is mixed with lard, as for tamales, especially if you are cooking it on the stovetop. 
It is even better if mixed with cooked beans (black-eyed peas are the traditional ones), including their liquid.  In this case it has to be wrapped and baked (in oven, about 350o, if no pib is at hand).  It is then eaten with Tomato or Chile Sauce.
Is Waj ("Corncake of New Maize")
Market version:
Grind up new maize (cut from ears of sweet corn) and leave standing for a few days until very slightly sour.  Add salt and make into very thin tortillas.  Cook till crisp.
More sophisticated version:
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup lard
Kernels from 3 roasting ears, cut off close
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Salt
Grind kernels.  Mix with other ingredients.  Make into very thin tortillas and cook on griddle. 
Kernels from really young, tender sweet corn are really too soft for this; one needs kernels with some substance.  The Maya eat young corn at the stage that in my youth was called "roasting ears"—the kernels still tender, but somewhat more starchy than the sweet-corn stage.  One can use tender sweet corn kernels, however, by reducing the quantity somewhat, so the resulting dough is firm enough to make good tortillas.
Variant: common is a sweet version, using sugar instead of salt.
Saka' (Sak ja', "white water": Corn gruel)
The other staple food--along with waj.
The ancient saka' is just corn meal or mashed new corn in water.  Today, the word usually means pozole:  Wash nixtamal kernels (available in Mexican markets).  Boil till they break open.  Drain.  Grind and form into a ball the size of a tennis ball. 
Variant:  Fry or toast the nixtamalized kernels before grinding.
For consumption, the ball is dissolved in water, stock, or soup.  The simple rural method is to dissolve in water with salt and chile.  
To approximate saka': Cook a small amount of "Maseca" or other prepared Mexican corn meal in good stock, stirring constantly.
Similar preparations are made by processing the maize in slightly different ways.  Sikil can be mixed in and the resulting atole cooked.
Fancy pozole or atole: Grind fresh green corn.  Mix with sugar.  Coconut cream can be mixed in if desired.
Ground toasted corn kernels, made into a drink, are pinole.  (Pozole, pinole and atole are Nahuatl words; saka' is the basic Maya word.)
RECADOS
These are the soul of Yucatecan cooking.  It is essential to make your own recados, unless you can get to a major public market in Yucatan. 
To make a recado, grind all the ingredients very fine, and moisten with enough vinegar or bitter orange juice to make a solid paste, adding salt to taste.  Failing bitter orange juice, use lime juice or a mix of orange and grapefruit juice (do not use bottled bitter orange juice preparations). 
In Yucatan, you can get a spice mix called xak'. (This just means "mix" in Maya, and is also used for the recados themselves.)  The pre-made spice mix typically made of a cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. cloves, 1 tsp. pepper, 2 tsp. oregano, 1/4 tsp. cumin, and 1 tsp. allspice.  (Naturally, these ingredients are variable.)  All these are ground fine.  Then all you have to do is add achiote paste and you have your recado.
Achiote Paste
Bring achiote seeds to boil, in water.  Drain and soak overnight in vinegar, bitter orange juice or lime juice.  Blend.  It takes a tough blender to make these hard seeds into a paste.  A stone mortar and pestle is preferable, but then the preparation takes a strong arm and a lot of pounding.
Black Recado
2 ancho chiles or other dark dried chiles
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. achiote paste
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. oregano
Citrus juice or vinegar
Roast the garlic cloves.  Seed and toast the chiles.  They should darken enough to make the recado quite dark.  Grind all.  In Yucatan the chiles are actually burned to a glossy black, but this kills the taste of the chiles.  It also has to be done outdoors, standing upwind, since the vapors of burning chile peppers are seriously dangerous to eyes.  
Variant: the garlic is not always roasted.
Hot Recado
2 tbsp. dry chile
4 allspice berries
8 epazote leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. achiote
Vinegar or bitter orange or lime juice to make thick paste
Mole Recado
2 ancho chiles
3 pasilla chiles
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 small piece of cinnamon stick
3 cloves
Half tbsp. sesame seeds
3 garlic cloves
Bitter orange or lime juice to make thick paste
Recado for cold meat
3 allspice berries
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 cloves
1 small piece of cinnamon stick
1 roasted head of garlic
Pinch of saffron (optional)
Ground dry chile to taste
Vinegar, bitter orange juice, or lime juice to make paste
Spread on the meat or mix in with it.
Red Recado
This is the standard--the Universal Seasoning of Yucatan.
1 tbsp. achiote paste (more in Quintana Roo, often 3 tbsp.)
1 tsp. (or more, to taste) black pepper
1 tsp. dry oregano leaves, crushed
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2-4 cloves
1 small piece of cinnamon stick
3 garlic cloves, slowly roasted till soft
Bitter orange juice (or substitute) to make thick paste
Prepare as with above.  Variants:  Allspice is often added--about 4 berries.  Garlic can be unroasted.  Coriander seeds (very few) can be added, but are rare in Yucatan.  Naturally, everyone varies the amounts slightly.  A village recado would be heavier on the achiote, garlic, and oregano, which everyone grows in the yard, and much lighter on the expensive store-bought spices (cloves, cinnamon, cumin, pepper).
Roast Garlic Recado
20 large garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. oregano
Bitter orange or lime juice
Roast the garlic (broiling in oven, or over open flame).  Peel and mash. Grind the spices.  Mix with enough bitter orange juice or equivalent to make a paste.
Variant: use some unroasted garlic, and/or a roasted onion.
Steak Recado
1 tbsp. black pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp. oregano
Vinegar (recommended for this one) or bitter orange juice or lime juice, to make thick paste
Some steak recados add allspice, cinnamon and cumin--very little of each, say about 1/4 tsp.
Spicy Recado
1 tbsp. pepper
1 small stick cinnamon
4 cloves
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. oregano
1 pinch saffron
Bitter orange juice or lime juice, to make thick paste
Tamale Recado
1 tbsp. black pepper
3 allspice berries
5 epazote leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. achiote
ground dry chile
Vinegar or bitter orange juice or lime juice to make thick paste
White Recado
Not called for in any of the following recipes, but great in soup or stew, especially with turkey.
1 tbsp. black pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. oregano
2 cloves
1 pinch cumin seeds
1 pinch saffron
1/4 tbsp. cilantro seeds
Coriander seeds (optional)
Vinegar (white vinegar is ideal here; citrus juice is not recommended for this one)
APPETIZERS AND SALSAS
Basic relish to eat with Maya food:
1 bunch radishes
Few leaves cilantro
Chopped onion and/or garlic, to taste (optional)
1 fresh green chile or one habanero chile (if you can stand it--the taste is much better, but habaneros are almost unbearable to the uninitiated)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the radishes and other ingredients and marinate in bitter orange juice or lime juice.
Chopped tomatoes can be added.
Botanas (snacks to eat with drinks)
A typical selection might include:
onion, garlic and tomato stir-fried and then mixed with cilantro and sikil
Cucumbers, onions, cilantro, radishes, cut up, in vinegar
Boiled potato cubes with onion, cilantro, vinaigrette
Ceviche (fish and shellfish bits in lime juice with cut-up chiles and tomatoes and onions, with salt and black pepper)
Ha' Sikil P'ak ("Water, sikil and tomatoes"—nice descriptive name)
2 tomatoes
1 red onion
Few sprigs cilantro
Juice of 1 bitter orange
1/2 cup sikil
Chile habanero to taste
Salt to taste
Roast and peel tomatoes.  Chop these with cilantro and onion.  Add the bitter orange juice.  Stir in the sikil, then the habanero.  This should be a thick paste.  Serve for dipping up with tortilla wedges.
Habanero Salsa
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
2 lb. tomatoes
1 habanero
1 tbsp. oil
1 pinch oregano
1 pinch salt
Chop all.  Fry the garlic and onions first, then the chile and finally the tomato, stirring constantly.  Add the oregano late in the process.       
K'utbi Ik (Chile Sauce)
Seed and toast fresh chiles.  Wrap in cloth for a few minutes so skins steam loose, and then peel.  Blend or mash with similarly roasted tomato, and garlic or onion.  Herbs may be added.
K'utbi Ik, dry chile version
Toast and grind dry red chiles.  Roast garlic, green chiles, and onion.  Mash all with lime juice.
K'utbi p'ak (Tomato Sauce)
Same as above, but with little or no chile. 
Or: Chop and fry onion or  garlic.  When colored, add chopped tomato, salt, and herbs (epazote, cilantro, oregano) if desired.  Bitter orange juice or lime juice can be mixed in.  Mash somewhat—it should be chunky, not a paste (see below).
Or: Roast and peel tomatoes.  Blend with some cilantro, salt, bitter orange juice and habanero chile.
It can also be yach'bij (mashed more thoroughly—to a paste—with a pestle in a molcajete—a small mortar), or suut'bij (the same, but with a revolving motion, not smashed down), or just licuado—blended in a blender!
Little Dogs'nose (Xni'-pek')
This is the standard Maya salsa.  It gets its name because it makes your nose run and become cold and wet like a dog's.
Seed and chop a habanero chile.  Add chopped onion, garlic, tomato, and any herbs, to taste.  Marinate in bitter orange juice or lime juice, with salt. 
It is important that all the ingredients be absolutely fresh for this.  Xni'-pek' can marinate for a day or so, once made, but no more than that.
Marinated Onions
This is the universal accompaniment for many cooked meat dishes, including pok-chuk and turkey.
1 large red onion
10 peppercorns
3 allspice berries
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 cup bitter orange juice
As much habanero chile as you can stand
Salt to taste
Cut onion into slices.  Add the peppercorns and allspice.  Let stand very briefly in boiling water.  Drain.
Add garlic, oregano, orange juice and chile.  Let marinate briefly.
Variant: use vinegar and some water instead of bitter orange juice.  In this case, everything is combined, brought to a boil, and left to marinate for a day or more.
P'uybi Ik (Ground Chile)
Toast dried chiles till slightly colored.  Then (not before) seed them and grind fairly fine.
Rooster Beak (pico de gallo)
5 jicamas
5 sweet oranges
3 bitter oranges
Ground chile, to taste
Cilantro, to taste
Salt, to taste
     Peel and cut up the jicamas and sweet oranges.  Mix with the juice of the bitter oranges and add the seasonings.
     "Rooster beak" is a name generally given to salsas that have a bite like the peck of an angry rooster.  This is a mild one, somewhere between a salsa and a salad.  It need not be; you can use chopped fresh habanero chiles.           
Wasp Larvae
Toast wasp larvae and eat with relishes. 
Or just smoke a wasp nest to drive away the adults and more or less cook the larvae, then open the nest and eat the smoked larvae from it.  They taste like smoked bacon (at best). (I have tried this one.) 
Wolis
A mixture of masa, cooked black-eyed peas, sikil, ground dried chile, chopped cilantro and chopped onion.  These are not mashed up—just mixed, so the peas and onions remain chunky.  The mixture is wrapped in hojasanta leaves, then in a second wrapping of banana leaves, and cooked in the pib or steamed to make tamales.
Without the masa, it is a standard quickly-improvised relish to put on tortillas or other corn cakes.  For this, take cooked black-eyed peas; drain; mix in the other ingredients, to taste.
Xek'
The term just means "mixed," but one standard "mix" is a salad of orange sections and chopped jicama with salt, chile, chopped cilantro, and lime juice.  This is traditionall served on the Day of the Dead, November 1.
Xub Ik (Superhot Chile Sauce)
30 dried chiles
2 lb. tomatoes
6 allspice berries
A few peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
8 or more oregano leaves
Branch of epazote
Seed the peppers.  Toast them (optional, but typical).  Boil.  When soft, add other ingredients.  Blend all. 
Meat can be cooked in this, or it can used simply as a sauce.
Prepare with all windows open.  Use rubber gloves if your hands are sensitive.  Avoid touching eyes or other sensitive parts of the body. 
Some other typical garnishes and relishes: 
Tomato, sikil, coriander, garlic, onion, salt--chopped fine, fried and blended to a smooth paste
Cucumbers vinagreta (thin sliced with onion, cilantro, habanero chiles, garlic, vinegar, oil)
Potato slices vinagreta
Cabbage, chile and cilantro, chopped, vinagreta
White beans cooked with tomato, onion, spices, bits of ham and bacon
Chicharrones stewed with onion, tomato, chile
TAMALES AND RELATIVES (including antojitos—substantial snacks—and tortilla-based items)
Black-eyed Pea Tamales
A standard market snack. 
1 lb. pork
6 tomatoes
1 branch epazote
1 oz. masa
Juice of 1 bitter orange
1 cup fresh (or dried and precooked) black-eyed peas
Lard and masa for tamales
Proceed as in previous recipe.  The very cheap version leaves out the pork.
Chanchamitos (simple tamales)
Yucatecans love multiple diminutives.  "Chanchamitos" means "little little little ones"--Maya chan, "little," is doubled, and the Spanish diminutive ending added for good measure. 
1/2 lb. salt pork or fresh pork
1 branch epazote
1 1/2 kb. masa
1 square of recado rojo
3 tbsp. lard
Salt to taste
Corn shucks
Chop up the pork.  Boil with the epazote.  Then dissolve some masa in the stock to thicken it to thin sauce consistency.
Mix the rest of the masa with the recado, lard, and salt.
Make tamales in the usual way, but only 1/4 to 1/3 the size of regular ones.
Variants:  These can be made with any sort of meat that will do for a filling, including leftovers.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:17)
Chaya Tamales (also called "Braza de Reina"—"Queen's Arm"--or sometimes "Braza de India")
Boil chaya leaves.  Roll any kind of tamale or similar food in them, using the same technique as for stuffing grape leaves or cabbage leaves.  Eat the whole thing, chaya leaves and all.
As the name implies, these are usually made long and rather slender, like a girl's forearm.
One good filling mix:
1 kg chopped tomatoes
½ onion
3 small chiles or 1 chile xkatik, chopped
Oil for frying
Salt
Hardboiled eggs, chopped
Fry up the tomatoes, onions, and chiles (to a sofrito).  Mix with the eggs.  Use for stuffing the tamales.
Hojasanta is very often used instead of, or even with, chaya.
Chaya-stuffed Tamales (Ts'otobij Chay; "Dzotobichay" on restaurant menus)
As the name suggests, this very popular dish is thoroughly Maya, surely pre-Columbian.  The name means "chaya stuffing" or "chay with filling stuffed into it" (Maya ts'ot, "to stuff something into a hollow space").
1 lb. chaya (swiss chard if you can't get chaya)
3 lb. masa
1 lb. lard
8 eggs
1/2 lb. sikil (ground squash seeds)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chaya leaves for wrapping
6 tomatoes
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
Some chile, optional
Chop the chaya and mix with the masa, lard and salt.
Cook the eggs and chop finely.  Mix with the sikil. 
Make tamales the usual way (the egg mix inside the chaya-masa mix), steaming for an hour. 
Roast the tomatoes, onions and garlic.  Add whatever chile is desired.  Mash.  Serve as sauce for the tamales.
This recipe invites creative interpretation.  You can stuff it with anything, as long as the stuffing is not strong-flavored enough to kill the delicate chaya taste.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:18)
Chulibuul with sikil
Chulibuul means "stewed beans."
2 lb. young fresh beans from the field (substitutes: frozen limas or black-eyed peas)
2 lb. masa
3 onions
Branch of epazote
4 garlic cloves
1 lb. sikil
Salt to taste
Cook the beans.  Mix the masa with a little water.  Chop finely the onions and epazote.  Grind the garlic.
Mix all, and cook slowly and carefully.  Add half the sikil.  Serve with the rest of the sikil sprinkled over it and with tomato sauce poured over it.
Fresh variant:  Use sweet corn kernels instead of masa.  Cook the beans first; add the corn and just bring to boil, no more.  The result bears a great resemblance to succotash, except for the sikil.
Toksel variant:  If this is made without any maize--just the beans and sikil--it is "toksel." 
Out in the fields, farm workers heat stones in the campfire and drop them into this stew to cook it.  Stone soup?
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:21, with much added)
Codzitos
Another mestiza-Maya word: Kots' (codz in the old spelling), "something rolled up," with the Spanish diminutive ending added.  These are the simple, finger-food version of enchiladas.
Roll fresh or freshly-fried tortillas around tomato sauce with Mexican cheese or ground or shredded meat.
A fancy version at the wonderful Hacienda Teya--a restaurant in a restored henequen estate east of Merida--rolls the codzitos around shredded boiled chicken, then covers them with k'utbi p'ak, then crumbles fresh white cheese over all.
Eggs a la Motul (Huevos Motuleños)
Motul is a large, historically important town in central Yucatan.  This dish is a standard breakfast all over the Peninsula.
2 tortillas
Lard
1 tomato
1/4 onion
2 oz. ham
2 eggs
Oil
Salt to taste
1-2 oz. refried black beans
Several green peas (necessarily canned in Yucatan, where peas don't grow, but much better if fresh)
Tomato sauce
Fry (saute) the tortillas in the lard.
Cut up the tomatoes and onion in small pieces.  Fry.
Cut up the ham into small pieces.  It can be fried also (but usually isn't).
Fry the eggs.
Now cover the tortillas with beans; the beans with the eggs; the eggs with the tomato, onion and ham; and the whole thing with tomato sauce.  Garnish with the peas (or mix them in with the tomato and onion, earlier step).
Chickpeas or other vegetables can be used.  Various garnishes exist.  Much of the quality of the dish depends on the ham; get the best.
Of course, the true Yucatecan eats this mammoth breakfast with habanero sauce--the perfect wake-up at seven in the morning!
Empanadas
Make small tortillas from masa.  Fold them around any filling—beans, chopped meat, chicken, k'utbi p'ak, etc., in any combination—and fry.  Serve with sliced cabbage, onions in lime juice, or other topping over them.
Enchiladas a la Quintana Roo
10 tortillas
1 cup shredded cooked spiced chicken
3 oz. Mexican sharp white cheese, crumbled
1 onion, chopped
2 ancho chiles
2 pasilla chiles
1 oz. almonds
1 oz. peanuts (optional)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp. lard
Salt to taste
Fry the tortillas in lard.  Roll them around the chicken.  Top with cheese and onion.
Seed and toast the chiles.  Grind with the almonds and peanuts.  Blend with the stock and season.  Cook quickly to thicken and pour over enchiladas.
Fish Tamales
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. cumin seeds
3 tbsp. achiote
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. fish fillet
4 tbsp. lard
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup bitter orange juice
2 lb. masa
Banana leaves
Grind up the garlic, cumin, and one tbsp. of the achiote with the salt and pepper.  Cut up the fish and rub this recado into it.
Heat half the lard.  Fry the vegetables in it.  Add the fish and then the bitter orange juice.
Mix the masa with the rest of the lard and achiote, and some salt.
Make tamales the usual way.
Green Corn Tamales with Chicken
Grains from 30 sweet corn ears
1/2 lb. lard
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 lb. pork loin meat, cooked
Meat from 1 small chicken, cooked
5 chiles
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cloves
2 garlic cloves
1 small piece of cinnamon stick
Salt to taste
Grind the kernels.   Mix in the lard, sugar, salt, milk and soda.  Beat. 
Shred or cut up the meat.  Seed and toast the chiles.  Grind all the flavorings.  Mix all, and make tamales in usual way.
Variant: red recado has been known to work its way into these, though it is a fairly strong flavor for green corn tamales, and tends to kill the delicate flavor of the green corn unless very small amounts are used.
Hojasanta Tamales
Make as for Chaya Tamales, above, or wrap any tamale in hojasanta (mak'ol or mak'olam in Yucatec Maya) and then in banana leaves.  Steam or bake in pib.  The hojasanta leaves are edible, but not the banana leaves.
Joloches (joroches)
From Maya jooloch, "corn shuck, dried corn leaf"--presumably from the appearance of the dumplings, like corncobs in the shuck.
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 lb. tomato
1 onion
1 bell pepper
3 garlic cloves
Red recado
1/2 cup vinegar or bitter orange juice
1 1/2 lb. masa
2 tbsp lard
Salt to taste
1 lb. cooked black beans
3 oz. sikil
Cook the meat with the tomato, a strip on onion, half the bell pepper, three garlic cloves, salt, some water and the recado diluted in vinegar or juice.
Mix the masa with lard and salt.  Form cones and stuff with the meat mix.  Close the tops with masa.
Chop and fry the rest of the onion and bell pepper. 
Warm up the beans and add the fried vegetables.  
Add in the cones and cook 15-20 minutes.
This is one of those common, standard recipes that is infinitely variable.  Almost any ingredient can be left out or decreased in quantity, and other common ingredients sometimes find their way in.
For instance:  A quick-and-easy village form of the above is simply:
Squash flowers
Onion
Salt
Masa
Boil the flowers with the onion and salt.  Form the masa into little cones and add in.  The cones should look like the flowers; presumably this is the original inspiration of the dish.
Or we can have:
Joloches with Longaniza
1/2 lb. longaniza
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1 xkatik chile
1 lb. masa
Lard
Salt to taste
Kabax beans
Cut up the longaniza and vegetables.  Fry the longaniza, and then the vegetables in its oil.  Make small masa dumplings filled with this mixture.  Flatten and fry.  Add to the beans and serve.
Panuchos
As popular as salbutes (for which see below).  A typical workers' breakfast, using up the remains of dinner from the day before.
2 lb. masa
1 lb. mashed black beans (cooked with two branches of epazote; left over from yesterday)
3 red onions
Leftover breast meat from a turkey roasted in red recado
Juice of 4 bitter oranges (or 8 limes)
Tomato and chile sauces
Lard
Make small tortillas.  These have to be homemade and 3-4" across (about half as big as regular ones), so they will puff up.
Cook on griddle or frying pan.  Hopefully, they will puff up, leaving a hollow center (like pita bread or Indian puris).   This center is known as saay in Maya.
Stuff the hollow with mashed beans.
Fry (sauté) the bean-stuffed tortillas in lard.
Shred the turkey meat and put on top.  Shredded lettuce or other vegetables can be added.  (Chicken or other meat can be used, though turkey is traditional and particularly good.)
Cut up the onion and marinate in the salt and orange juice.  Serve separately.  Also serve separately the k'utbi p'ak and chiles.  Panuchos are very much an eaters'-choice type of food.
Papadzules
Papa ts'uul means "rich people's food."  (Ts'uul, or "dzul," is now used to mean "foreigner," but seems originally to have meant "rich person.")  This may, however, be a folk etymology; Cherry Hamman explains it as "papak', to anoint or smear, and sul, to soak or drench" (Hamman 1998:94).  Either way, economic progress has come, and this is now a relatively humble staple dish, typically found on the breakfast menu.
1 egg
1 tomato
Bit of habanero chile
1 sprig epazote
Oil
4 tortillas
2 oz. sikil
Salt to taste
Hardboil the eggs.  Chop or mash up.
Boil the tomatoes, chiles and epazote.  Drain, but save the water.   Blend.  Fry in oil.
Dissolve the sikil in the reserved cooking water.  Mix half of this with the oil.  (This is what people generally do now, and I have watched it many a time, but Hamman tells you the ancient way: roast and grind the squash seeds yourself, mix with water, and knead till they produce some oil.  See Hamman 1998:94; also Conaculta Oceano 2000b:18).  Spread on the tortillas.  Then spread on these the egg mix and roll up. 
Pour over the roll-ups the rest of the sikil sauce, and the tomato sauce.
Variant: a much more elaborate version involves mixing the sikil with stock, epazote, onion, garlic and chile, and serving the whole with marinated onions (red onions cut up, blanched, and marinated in vinegar or bitter orange juice with spices and chopped habanero chiles).
Another variant involves boiled chaya (or spinach, one bunch) and 3 tbsp of cut-up chives.
Polcanes
Maya pool kaan, "snake head," with a Spanish plural!  The name comes from the resemblance between the opened-up dumplings and a snake's head with mouth open.  Another common and cheap market snack.
2 lb. black-eyed peas (fresh or briefly cooked to soften)
1/2 lb. sikil
1 tsp. ground chile
1 lb. masa
3 tbsp. lard
Salt
Cook the beans.  Drain.  Mix with sikil and chile.
Mix the masa with the lard and salt.  Stuff with the beans.  (Or mix flour and masa, make a thin skin and stuff like ravioli.)
Steam or pib-bake in corn husks like tamales, or deep-fry like hush-puppies. 
For eating, split and fill with tomato sauce.
Salbutes
Something of a national dish of Yucatan.  The name is from Maya tsajil but', "fried minced meat."  As with such "small eats" the world over, the best place to get these is down at the marketplace in the morning, where the working people are stoking up for a hard day's work.  Salbutes become a powerfully nostalgic flavor for those who regularly eat them in such circumstances.
Make small tortillas from fresh masa.  Deep-fry in very hot lard.  While these are still as hot as possible, pile on them shredded cooked chicken or turkey (preferably cooked in red recado), chopped cabbage or lettuce, marinated onion (see previous recipe), tomato slices, radish slices, and/or anything else desired. 
This is often accompanied by the chicken or turkey stock; black beans; and lime slices.  As the Maya name implies, they are often topped with fried minced pork instead of poultry.  In fact, they are topped with just about anything: beans, tripe, chorizo, etc.  A good market stall will have alternatives, the eaters choosing what they want.
Sopes
Fry small, thick tortillas.  Top with anything interesting. 
Some toppings noted at Merida markets and fiestas include:
Nopal salad (prickly pear pads cooked, cut up, and marinated in oil and vinegar with spices)
Nopal cut up in chocolate mole (made by cooking and mixing chocolate tablets and ground chiles)
Any and all meat, preferably cooked in red recado, shredded
Beans or beans and meat, usually refried black beans
The sopes are then usually further topped off with lettuce or cabbage, various sauces, etc., over the meat.
To'obi joloch (Sweetbread Tamales)
Boil sweetbreads until tender.  Chop; eliminate tough membranes.  Mix in a handful of chopped shallots and 2 cups sikil. 
Use to fill tamales in the usual way.
Vaporcitos ("little steamed ones")
A very common, minimalist sort of snack.
Mix masa, lard and cooked black-eyed peas.  Make this mix into tamales—no filling added—and steam.  Eat with Tomato Sauce.
The same thing baked in a pib is called xnup'.
Wedding Tamales
This is the full-scale tamale of Yucatan.  The main ingredients can, of course, be varied, according to what is available.
1 chicken
1 lb. pork
1 cube red recado
1 tbsp. steak recado
2 lb. tomatoes
1 tbsp. ground allspice
1 small head of garlic, roasted and bashed
Branch of epazote
1 lb. lard
Chile and salt to taste
Masa
Cook the meats.  Dissolve the spices in vinegar and add.  Add other ingredients.  Bone the meats and make tamales in the usual way, using some of the stock, or grease skimmed from it, to add to the lard.
SOUPS
"Barriana" soup
Silvia Luz Carrillo Lara, in Cocina Yucateca (1995:17-18), reports that this is a true "mestiza" soup, found in many old cookbooks.  This is an adaptation of her recipe.  It is a relatively "Spanish" dish, preserving the flavors of the Spanish Colonial world.  Like all such recipes, it seems to be dying out in Yucatan, but variants of it can still be found.  The Spanish ancestors of this dish are still around in southern Spain, and use leftover bread instead of masa, the latter being an obvious Mexicanization.
1/2 lb. masa
1 tomato
1/2 red onion
1 bell pepper
1/4 cup lard ("Maya lard" recommended)
3 pints chicken or beef stock, freshly made
12 olives
2 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. raisins
2 tbsp. chopped almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of saffron (optional)
Break the masa into small pieces and fry them in the lard.  Chop the tomato, onion, and pepper, and fry them separately.  Add the masa.  Then add the stock and cook ca. 10 minutes.  Add the other ingredients and cook until all is heated. 
Variants without the masa, often with different thickenings, exist. 
Chaya Soup
8 or more fresh chaya leaves
1 chayote
1 potato
1 summer squash
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. ground oregano
6 cups water
1 chipotle chile in vinegar or marinade
Salt to taste
Chop the chaya finely.  Cut up the other vegetables.  Cook all.
Obviously, this recipe can be varied at will.  The basic idea is chaya plus other vegetables—a mix of starchy and crunchy ones—and standard Yucatecan spicing.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:24)
Covered Soup
This is what Mexicans call a "sopa seca," a "dry soup."  This isn't an oxymoron, just the standard term for a soup that includes enough starch to absorb all the free liquid.  Such dishes have a Moorish origin; they are related to pilaf.  This one is thoroughly Spanish, and thus out of place in a book about the true mestizo cookery, but it is far too typical of Yucatan to leave out.  It represents a large class of popular recipes transported from Spain to Yucatan virtually without change.  It also provides insight into what was imported from Spain in the old days: capers, saffron, oil, vinegar, wine, and olives were staples of trade.
For the "stuffing":
A large chicken cut up, or any small poultry
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
6 allspice berries
1/4 cup vinegar
For the rice:
1/2 lb. rice
5 tbsp. oil
2 xkatik chiles
2/3 lb. tomatoes
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. saffron
1 bunch parsley
1 banana leaf
3 oz. lard
For the final assembly:
1 oz. lard
2/3 lb. tomatoes
1/2 cup stock
2 oz. bottled green olives
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
4 tbsp. sherry
1 oz. capers
3 oz. Mexican white cheese
Cut up the poultry.  Grind the onions, garlic and spices, rub onto poultry, and marinate overnight. 
Soak the rice for an hour or more.  Drain and fry in the oil.  Add chopped chiles.  Roast the tomatoes and blend with the onion and garlic.  Soak the saffron in 1 oz. water.  Add all these to the rice, cover, and simmer over very low heat for a while--not till fully done.
Spread the banana leaf with lard, in a baking dish.  Put half the rice mix on this.   
Then fry the poultry in the final 1 oz. lard.  Add tomatoes (roasted and chopped) and stock.  Then add olives, parsley, sherry and capers.
Cover with the rest of the rice mix, fold the banana leaf over, and bake 10-20 minutes at 375o.
Sprinkle with broken-up white cheese for serving.
Much simpler variants exist, converging on the familiar "Spanish rice" of Mexican restaurants everywhere.  This is basically a pilaf with peppers and tomatoes instead of Moorish ingredients.  Rice is fried with chopped onion, then spices and other ingredients are added, then liquid to cover ½-1" deep, then all is simmered at the lowest possible heat till the liquid is absorbed.  Standard in Yucatan are simple "Spanish rices" with chicken cooked in red recado, or other variants, added to the tomato-onion-pepper basic formula.
Lentil Soup
1 lb. pork
1 tbsp oregano
2 cups lentils
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
Red recardo, 1 oz.
2 mild chiles
1 carrot
1 chayote
1 platano
2 potatoes
Salt
Pepper
Boil the pork and lentils till the lentils are tender but not quite thoroughly done.  Add other ingredients and finish cooking.
Sopa de Lima (Bitter Lime Soup)
This soup requires a strange lime-like citrus fruit, the lima agria, with a unique flavor.  Note that it is a lima, not a limón (lime or lemon).  It is fact the Thai lime, easy to find in any Oriental market.  (No one knows how it got to Yucatan.)  The Yucatecan bitter lime should be fresh for this soup, but I get acceptable results with dried Thai lime and a bit of fresh ordinary lime.  It is also possible to use ordinary lime only.  This is done even in Yucatan if bitter limes are not available. The real lima is preferable, though.
This is probably the most famous single Yucatecan dish, after cochinita pibil.  Yucatecan restaurants far from Yucatan all carry it, if only for nostalgic reasons.  They often can't get the real lima agria, so don't judge this soup by versions you may have had outside Yucatan.
For the stock and meat:
1 chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves
1 tbsp. dried oregano
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Enough water to produce 8 cups stock
For the soup:
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1 xkatik chile (or other mild chile according to your preference)
1 tsp. vinegar
1 lb. tortillas, cut in strips or wedges and fried in lard
1 bitter lime
Cook the chicken with the other stock ingredients.  Eat the dark meat (cook's privilege).  Shred the white meat.
Blend the tomatoes, onion, chiles (seeded and soaked), vinegar, beer and salt. 
Combine all: into the stock, mix the blended vegetables; the shredded chicken; the fried tortilla strips; and the cut-up lime.  A few sqeezes of ordinary lime juice are good too.
Variants: Chicken cooked in red recado is often used, and adds to the flavor.
A couple of tablespoons of beer find their way into some versions.
The fried tortilla strips are dispensable.
Squash Soup
1 tomato
1 bell pepper
3 oz. butter
6 small summer squash
6 or more squash flowers
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, chop the tomato and pepper and fry in the butter.  Add water and the cut-up squash and flowers.
Variant:  a couple of ounces of chopped ham can be fried with the tomato and pepper.  I prefer the vegetarian form, however.
Tortilla Soup
1 lb. beans
6 tortillas
Oil for frying
1/2 onion, chopped
1 serrano chile, chopped
2 sprigs epazote
2 tomatoes, roasted and skinned
1/2 lb. chorizo, taken out of its casing and fried
Grated Mexican sharp white cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the beans in enough water for the final soup.
Cut the tortillas in wedges and fry.  Fry the onion, chiles, and epazote.  Add the beans and tortilla strips.
Blend the tomatoes with salt and pepper. 
Combine all ingredients--sprinkling the chorizo and cheese over the top.
White Bean Soup (Yucatan form of a very popular Spanish dish)
1/2 lb. white beans (traditionally small white limas, but ordinary white beans will do)
1/2 white onion
2 tomatoes
1/3 lb. of chorizo, or 1 small chorizo and 1 longaniza
1/4 head of cabbage (optional)
1 green pepper
1/4 lb. Spanish, Virginia or similar flavorful ham
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1/2 lb. potatoes
Wash the beans.  Then soak, and boil in the same water until beginning to be tender. 
Chop and fry the tomatoes, onions, pepper, cabbage, ham, and chorizo.  Add seasonings.
Combine these with the beans.  Cut up the potatoes, add, and cook all till the beans are tender.
A sprinkling of marjoram and oregano--fresh or dry—is good.  One can also decorate with chopped parsley, or even (untraditional but good) cilantro.
SEAFOODS
Baked Fish I
1 large fish (preferably fairly oily)
3 garlic cloves
1 onion
3 oregano leaves
5 bay leaves
1 glass white wine
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Marinate the fish in the other ingredients for an hour.  Bake.
This can also be done on the stove top in a heavy saucepan.  Try adding xkatik chiles. 
The fish is often even better if rubbed with red recado or otherwise marinated beforehand.
Baked Fish II
1 large fish
3 oz. olive oil
1/2 lb. potatoes
1/2 cup vinegar
6 tomatoes
1 onion
2 xkatik chiles
1/2 tsp. ground cumin or cumin seeds
6 leaves oregano
4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley
Grind the spices (except the bay leaves) and blend with vinegar and some oil.  Rub into fish. 
Cut up the vegetables.  Put the fish on the bay leaves and cover with the vegetables mixed with the rest of the oil.  Bake.
Variant: Lard is used instead of olive oil.  Butter can be used.
This can be done on the stove top also, in a heavy saucepan.
Chiles Stuffed with Dogfish
See also following dish.
1 piece, ca. 1 lb., of roast dogfish
Branch of epazote
4 tomatoes
1 onion
6 xkatik chiles
Vinegar
1/2 lb. lard
1 cube red recado
Boil the dogfish with epazote.  Flake and fry with onion, tomato, and epazote (all cut up).  Separately fry some of the onion and tomatoes. 
Roast the chiles, wrap in a cloth and leave for a while, then skin and seed.  Stuff with the dogfish mix.  Fry.
Add the rest of the onion and tomatoes, with the recado, to the boiling stock.  Cook down and pour this sauce over the chiles.
A much more elaborate version of this occurs in Patricia Quintana's wonderful book The Taste of Mexico (pp. 274-275). 
However, only a true dogfish addict would go to the trouble of making even the simple form with real dogfish, and I strongly recommmend using regular shark, or (still better) codfish, or some other firm white-fleshed fish.  I always do.  I admit it—I am not fanatical about dogfish.
Chiles Stuffed with Seafood
Quintana Roo variant of a universal Mexican dish.
6 large poblano chiles, or bell peppers
1 lb. mixed seafood: shrimps, crabmeat, fish, shellfish
Lard
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Oregano to taste
3 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
2 lb. tomatoes
1 onion
1 xkatik chile
1 habanero chile (if tolerated)
Sear the large chiles or bell peppers.  Seed.  They can be peeled also.
Cut up the seafood (the more variety the better).  Fry quickly with the spices.  Stuff the chiles.  Fry and serve.
Separately, chop the tomatoes, onion and other chiles, roasting any or all if desired.  Fry quickly.  Serve this sauce over the chiles.
Tomatoes or other vegetables can be stuffed similarly.
Conch in Escabeche
Conch is, alas, getting rare due to overfishing and pollution, and this magnificent dish may not be with us long.  However, the loss is not total, for any seafood can be cooked this way.  Abalone or other relatively chewy sea food should be particularly good, but now abalones are rare too.  One reader suggests scallops—not very close, but perfectly acceptable.
1 lb. conch meat
Juice of 2 bitter oranges or 6 limes
1 onion
5 oz. oil
1/2 bottle vinegar
2 xkatik chiles, roasted and seeded
6 oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. toasted cumin seeds
1 roasted head of garlic
4 bay leaves
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil conch till tender.  (For a conch, that can vary from several minutes to an hour, depending on the maturity of the conch, but for scallops a very few minutes is quite enough.  Small scallops need little more than being brought to the boil.)  Leave to cool in the orange or lime juice.  Cut up.
Fry the onion lightly in the oil.  Add the other ingredients.  Boil quickly. 
Marinate the conch in this.
Dogfish Pudding
1 1/2 lb. dogfish
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 branches epazote
1 onion
2 large chiles in vnegar
1 lime
4 eggs
1 tbsp. lard
1 oz. breadcrumbs (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauce:
2/3 lb. tomatoes
1 onion
1 tbsp. lard
1/4 cup dogfish stock
Garnish:
2 avocados
1 head of lettuce, preferably buttercrunch or red leaf
1 bunch radishes
Boil the dogfish with the oregano and epazote; save the stock.  Shred the fish.  Chop and fry the onion.  Add the fish with the epazote leaves.  Chop and add the chiles.  Fry quickly.
Beat the eggs with some lime juice, salt and pepper.  Blend into the fish mix.  Put all in mold.  Top with breadcrumbs if desired.  Bake at 350o.
For the sauce, roast the tomatoes.  Blend with the onion.  Fry in the lard.  Add in the stock.  Put over the pudding.
Garnish with avocado and radish slices and lettuce leaves.
I have not brought myself to using dogfish (see Chapter 2) in this.  Use any white-fleshed fish, cod being probably best because it has enough flavor and texture to stand out in this pudding.
Fish a la Celestun
1 onion
1 bunch parsley
2 tomatoes
Fresh chile, to taste
1 red snapper or similar fish
4 cloves
1 tsp. pepper
Pinch saffron
Frozen peas (optional)
1/4 cup Vinegar
Salt to taste
 
Chop the onion and parsley.  Fry.  Add the tomato and chile, roasted and blended.  Add the fish and spices and vinegar; cook in the sauce till nearly done, about 15 minutes.  Add the peas (if wanted) and finish cooking, 5-10 minutes.
In Celestun, a charming old fishing village famous for its flamingoes, the fish is usually fried first, sometimes grilled, and then covered with the sauce after it is cooked.  The Celestunians use canned peas, having no frozen ones available.
Fish Fajitas
A creative response to the fajita craze.  This version is an elaboration of that of the Faisan y Venado restaurant in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo.
1 lb. white fish fillet (not too delicate a species), cut into strips
Salt and pepper
Juice of 2 limes
4 oregano leaves
Pinch of cumin powder
2 cloves
Ground dried chile
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 tomato
Marinate the fish in the spices.
Cut vegetables into strips.  Stir-fry with the fish.
Fish in Green Sauce
A classic Arabo-Spanish recipe, which has evolved into countless variations in southern Mexico.  Compare variants in Chapters 2 and 4.
1 large bunch parsley
1 sprig oregano
1 bunch green onions with tops (trim off the ends)
1 bunch cilantro
6 tomatillos
2 xkatik or other mild green chiles
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
6 tbsp. vinegar
1 onion
Salt to taste
Oil
1 fish
Blend up the greens and flavorings in the vinegar.  Fry in oil.  Add the fish and cook. 
Variants:  This may be the most variable dish in the Yucatan Peninsula.  Everybody has his or her own version of it.  You can use any mixture of the green ingredients, in any quantity.  You can vary the spicing at will.  You can fry, grill or boil the fish first.  Sometimes, people don't fry the green sauce first, but just fry or bake the fish in the sauce.  In fact, you don't even have to have a fish.  This sauce is used for other seafood and even for pork.
Here, for instance, is another version:
1 fish, ca. 2 lb., or 2 lb. of fillets or fish steak
5 garlic cloves, roasted
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Salt
4 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1/3 lb. tomatillos
2 xkatik chiles
2 green onions with the leaves except for the very tips
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil
Clean the fish.  Grind the spices and rub into the fish.  Leave for an hour in cool place.  Blend the other ingredients (greens, vinegar and oil).  Put over fish.  Cook in a covered dish over a slow fire. 
Note that in this version the green sauce is not fried.
Yet another version, almost unbearably good, uses some hojasanta leaf. 
Octopus in Its Ink
3 large octopi
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 serrano chiles, chopped
Lard
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1 pinch ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. vinegar
Salt to taste
Take out the ink (remove ink sacs from octopi) and save it.  Wash the octopi and rub with 1 clove of the garlic, mashed.  Simmer, with a tomato, one onion, and lard, till octopi are tender.  Then clean off membranes etc. and cut up.
Chop and fry the rest of the garlic, the chiles, and the other onion.  When colored, add the bay leaves, the rest of the tomato, the pepper, cumin, oregano, parsley and the octopus ink dissolved in vinegar.  When this begins to boil, add salt and the octopus. Boil a few minutes, till done.
Squid in its ink is made more or less the same way.
At this point I cannot resist mentioning a dish from Tampico's great seafood restaurant, the Restaurante Diligencia:  seafood petrolera.  This is basically the above recipe with other seafoods--shrimp, fish roes, some fish, clams or oysters--cut up and added.  The name is a sick joke; Tampico has offshore oil, and thus oil spills at sea.  This dish looks exactly like the aftermath of an oil spill.  However, it tastes heavenly.  The roes in particular "make" the dish. 
Pampano
One whole pampano, about 2 lb.
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. oregano
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 cup beer (optional)
4 sliced tomatoes
1 sliced onion
2 xkatik chiles, chopped
4 potatoes, cooked and sliced
3 oz. butter
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves
Salt to taste
Put the fish in a baking dish. 
Make a sauce of the vinegar, spices and herbs, and beer (if used).
Cover the fish with the sauce.  Add the vegetables.  Put the butter and parsley over it.  Bake 30 minutes at 350o.
Variants: use fish steaks of other fish; add cilantro to the parsley;  rub the fish with red recado; etc.  Like the foregoing, this can be wrapped in leaves.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:37)
Rice with Seafood
Another of those infinitely variable recipes.  More typical of Campeche than Yucatan.
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Oil
1 lb. seafood (mixed, or cut-up squid, or shrimp, or other)
1/4 cup vinegar
Several sprigs parsley, chopped
2 roasted tomatoes
2 cups rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the garlic and onion in a little oil.  Add the seafood.  Add the vinegar.  If octopus or squid are among those present, mix in the ink. 
Add the parsley and tomatoes, chopped finely.
Separately, fry the rice.  Add water and simmer over very low heat.  When almost done, add the seafood.
Variant:  This is the minimal recipe.  Most people would add bay leaf, oregano, green peas, and bell or chile peppers (chopped).  Many would add spices including clove, cinnamon, cumin and allspice--all in very small amounts.  Some would throw in a carrot, or summer squash, or chayote, or anything else interesting and available.
Salpicon de Chivitos
Tiny sea snails with shells like curled goat horns (hence their name—"chivitos" means "little goats").  This is good with any shellfish.  I first encountered it in a tiny cafe on an isolated beach on the north coast of Yucatan.
Boil the shellfish.  Mix with their own weight (or a bit more) of raw chopped tomato, onion and cilantro.  Dress with salt, pepper, dried oregano, lime juice and a bit of oil.
Samak Mishwi
Arabic for "roast fish."  I have seen it Yucatecanized to "samik mishul."  This is one of the relatively recent Lebanese contributions to the Yucatan world.  It is as un-Maya a recipe as could be imagined, but I find fascinating the adoption of Lebanese culture in the Yucatan Peninsula.
2 fish
Olive oil
1 garlic clove
2 limes
4 oz. tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
6 sprigs parsley
Brush the fish with olive oil and grill. 
Serve with sauce:  Mash the garlic cloves with salt and mix with the lime juice and sesame paste.  Thin this with water as needed.
Garnish with chopped parsley. 
This sauce is a version of the famous taratur sauce of the Mediterranean.
Shrimps in Chirmole (or Chilmole)
Chilmole (Nahuatl for "chile sauce") is a very widespread recipe type, deriving from central Mexico, and based on a rich sauce of ground dried chiles, usually thickened with masa.  In central Mexico there is a whole conoisseurship of dried chiles, but in Yucatan there is not much choice. 
1 lb. fresh or dried shrimp
4 oz. dried chile (ancho, morron or the like)
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
3 Tabasco peppers
6 peppercorns
1/2 tsp. achiote
4 large oregano leaves (or 1 tsp. ground oregano)
2 cloves
1 lb. tomato, chopped
1 branch epazote
2 oz. masa
3 eggs
Salt to taste
Boil the shrimps, peel and clean.
Toast the chiles and grind with the onion, garlic and spices.  Combine with the shrimps, the stock they were boiled in, the tomato, the epazote and the salt. 
Dissolve the masa and cook down the whole into a thick sauce.  Serve decorated with slices of hardboiled eggs or other garnishes.
Warning: note that this recipe uses lots of chile. 
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:33)
Shrimp in Escabeche
10 garlic cloves
1/2 cup oil
2 lb. raw shrimp
Red onion
1/2 lb. carrots
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Chiles to taste (strong green ones, like jalapeños or serranos)
Large sprig of thyme
Large sprig of oregano
4-6 cloves
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry half the garlic, chopped, in some of the oil.  Add the shrimps.  When these are cooked, cool and peel them.
Separately, chop the onion and fry in oil.  Boil the carrots very quickly with the bay leaves, and cut up.
Grind up the other 5 garlic cloves, the vinegar, and the spices.
Combine all the above.  Heat and serve.  Will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator, improving in flavor.
This recipe is used with all sea food, especially firm ones.  It is actually best with conch, but conch is rapidly becoming unavailable everywhere.  It is extremely good with scallops, or with scallops, shrimp and clams.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:33)
Snook in Escabeche
As explained in the Introduction, robalo in southeast Mexico is what is called "snook" in the southern US.  It's a flavorful, slightly oily, white-fleshed fish.  Any equivalent fish will do; even salmon works fine for this one (texture and richness being more important in this case than flavor and "white fish" qualities). 
4 robalo steaks
1 tsp. steak recado
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 pinch ground oregano
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ground allspice
2 garlic cloves
2 heads of roasted garlic
4 bay leaves
Vinegar
Salt to taste
Fry the steaks till not quite done.  Cool. 
Dissolve the spices in the vinegar and some water.  Add the fish steaks.  Boil quickly.
Snook in Orange Juice
Fish:
2 lb. snook fillets
Juice of 1 bitter orange or a few limes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
Juice of 3-4 bitter oranges (or equivalent)
Sauce:
1/4 cup oil
2 cloves garlic
2 onions
2 bell peppers
2/3 lb. tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sprig or more parsley
Marinate the fish in the orange juice, to which the ground spices are added. 
Roll the fillets and fry very lightly.  Cover with bitter orange juice.  Bake at 350o. 
Meanwhile, make the sauce:  Fry the garlic and onions, chopped, in the oili.  Add the chiles and tomatoes, roasted.  Add the salt and pepper.  Then add the chopped parsley.  Cook.
Serve the fish with the sauce poured over.
Tik'in-xik
A very widespread traditional Maya fish dish.  Its ancestry must go back to ancient times.
1 fish (2-3 lb.)
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Juice of 1 bitter orange
2 tsp. achiote
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1-2 xkatik chiles, seeded, roasted and cut in strips
3 tbsp. butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Hojasanta and/or banana leaves
Clean the fish and slash its sides.  Blend the spices, garlic, achiote and orange juice.  Rub this recado well into the fish.  Marinate for several minutes to overnight, according to preference.
Line a baking dish with banana leaves (or substitute).  Wrapping with hojasanta leaves and then banana leaves gives better flavor.  Put the tomato, onion and chile slices on it.  Wrap well in the leaves and bake in a slow over for 30 to 45 minutes.
Originally, of course, this would have been made in a pib, and you can still do this if you are very good at wrapping.  It is also made on the grill, which is easier. 
Fish steaks marinated in the recado and simply grilled (without the wrapping) are also excellent.
If you can't find banana leaves, wrap in any flavorful leaf, or put some fennel or bay leaves around the fish and wrap all in aluminum foil.
Variants:  Cinnamon can be added to the recado.  All quantities can be, and are, varied according to what's cheap, available, or preferred.  This is a notably variable dish; every restaurant has its own recipe.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:37)
Worker's Shrimp
1 lb. tomato
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. achiote
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
5 allspice berries
1 oz. bottled green olives
1 oz. capers
A few raisins
1 sprig parsley
6 tbsp. oil
2 bell peppers
2 xkatik chiles
4 summer squash
2 chayotes
1/2 lb. potato
2 platanos
3 tbsp. vinegar
1 1/2 lb. shrimp (shelled and cleaned)
Roast the tomatoes.  Blend with the onion, garlic, spices (ground), olives, capers, raisins, and parsley.  Fry this sauce in the oil.  Cut up and add the vegetables and cook ca. 20 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook till done, about 10 min.
The olives, capers, and raisins were originally elite Spanish ingredients, and are optional here.  Leaving them out gives a more Maya dish—more like what workers really eat.
Fish in Vinegar
An escabeche variant.
2 lb. fish, preferably robalo steaks but any firm-fleshed fish will do
4 bay leaves
1/2 bottle cider vinegar
1 onion
1 carrot
1 bell pepper or mild chile
4 potatoes
Oil
4 tomatoes
Oregano
Few sprigs parsley, chopped
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Set a bit of water to boil, with the spices.  Cook 10 minutes and take out fish.  Chop the vegetables and cook in the vinegar and stock.  Add a biot of olive oil.  Pour over the fish and serve.

 


Maya recipes from Yucatan and Quintana        
Ajiaco, Yucatan style
A rather spectacular elaboration of a standard Mexican recipe.  This is another dish that stretches the meat with lots of vegetables.  It is thus notably healthy.
1 lb. pork loin
1 lb. pork short ribs
8 allspice berries
2 cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. coriander seed
1/2 tsp. oregano
3 garlic cloves
6 tsp. vinegar
1 onion
1 plantain
1/2 lb. tomatoes
2 bell peppers
3 xkatik chiles
1 chayote
1/2 lb. potatoes
1/2 lb. sweet potato
2 summer squash
1/3 cup rice
Pinch of saffron
Cut up the meat.  Grind the spices and garlic, mix with vinegar, and rub into the meat.  Cook for a few minutes.  Then add the vegetables, in the order listed.  The rice can be added with them or cooked and served separately. 
Add the saffron at the very end (last 5 minutes of cooking).
Ajiaco, Quintana Roo style
2 lb. pork
4 leaves of oregano
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 pinch cumin seeds
2 summer squash
2 carrots
2 chayotes
1 sweet potato
1 plantain
2 potatoes
1 cup rice
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 green chile
4 oz. lard
Juice of 1 bitter orange
1 pinch saffron (optional; rare)
Salt and pepper to taste
One is tempted to add: 1 kitchen sink.
Boil the meat.  Add the spices.  As it cooks, cut up the vegetables and add them in. 
Separately, chop up and fry the onion, tomatoes and chile.  Add the rice.  Add enough stock to cook and simmer slowly.  As it cooks, squeeze in the bitter orange juice.  Add the saffron at the very end.                                       
Variant:  This is a typical Quintana Roo dish in that it is delicately spiced.  Most ajiacos use a great deal more chiles than this, with dried chiles being notably evident.  Adjust accordingly.
Balinche Salad
Compare the Chojen Salad of the Chiapas highlands (Chapter 3).
Cold boiled meat—deer preferred, beef common.  It is shredded or chopped, with bitter orange (or lime) juice, chopped radish, cilantro, chile xkatik, and onion.  Half a bitter orange is served on the side to squeeze on it.
Other names are used, and ingredients are mixed and matched according to taste. 
This is one of those simple dishes that vary according to the creativity of the maker.
Beef in Broth
2 lb. beef, cut up
3 tomatoes
1 bell pepper
1 xkatik chile
1 onion
Half of 1 bunch cilantro
1 tsp. oregano
3 leaves mint
1 head of garlic
1 tsp. black pepper
4 tbsp. red recado
2 chopped summer squash
2 chayotes, cut up
Relish:
6 radishes
Rest of the cilantro
Juice of bitter orange
Salt
Habanero chile (optional)
Boil the meat.  Chop and fry the tomatoes, bell pepper, chiles and onion.  Add to the meat.  Late in the cooking, add the herbs.
Roast the garlic and add it in.
Dilute the recado in some of the stock, and add in.  Put in the squash and chayote.  Cook till done. 
Meanwhile, chop up the radishes, cilantro and chile and marinate in bitter orange juice.  Eat as relish for the meat.
Bistec
In spite of the name (which is, of course, "beefsteak"), this dish is usually made with pork in Yucatan and Quintana Roo.  However, it is made with beef too, especially rather tough cuts like flank steak.
2 lb meat, cut into thin steaks (1/8-1/4" thick)
Cinnamon stick
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cloves
1 tbsp peppercorns
3 cloves garlic
Juice from 4 bitter oranges and 2 limes (or just 4-6 limes)
1 carrot
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1-2 potatoes
Salt to taste (traditionally this is an extremely salty dish, to restore salt lost in working in the blazing Yucatan sun)
Grind the spices together, and thin with the citrus juice.  Marinate the pork in this for an hour or two.  Fry in lard till done.
Meanwhile, peel the vegetables.  Boil with salt.  Serve the boiled vegetables separately from the bistec. 
For sauce (separate):  Roast the habaneros.  Mash with salt.  Add cilantro and onion, and a bit of lime juice.  Or serve with limes, radishes and k'utbi p'ak.
Variants:  The vegetables can vary according to taste, except that the tomatoes, onion and potatoes must be there.
Bistec (Steak with Potatoes) II:  Urban Form
2 lb. tender beef or pork steak, cut thin
1 cube steak recado
Vinegar
Oil
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
4 potatoes, sliced (in rounds)
Salt to taste
Dissolve the recado in a little vinegar and rub into the meat, with a lot of salt.  Put a little oil on the bottom of a casserole or saucepan.  Layer meat and vegetable slices.  Cook over low heat.
Variant: with more onion and some garlic, instead of the tomatoes and potatoes, this becomes "steak and onions."
But'
Maya for "minced meat" (not rump steak!).  But' is translated into Spanish as relleno, "stuffing," which is confusing when it is not being used to stuff anything.
1 lb. ground pork (ideally, finely minced meat of fresh leg)
1 tsp. steak recado
1 pinch ground clove
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
4 tomatoes
1/2 onion
1 green chile (or bell pepper)
12 or 15 olives
1 tsp. capers
Raisins to taste
Almonds (to taste; optional)
4 hardboiled eggs
Salt to taste
Mix the spices into the meat.  Chop the vegetables.  Chop the whites of the eggs (reserve the yolks for garnish).  Mix all ingredients and cook in a frying pan, stirring. 
This is usually used as a topping or stuffing.  It is used to stuff turkey or to make meatballs cooked with cut-up turkey.  Either way, the turkey is often boiled in a richly spiced stock (see turkey recipes).  But' is also used in tacos or on sopes, etc., and of course for stuffing vegetables.
A very characteristic use:  wrapped around hardboiled eggs and fried, like Scotch eggs.
Traditional village versions leave out some or all of the classic Spanish imports:  olives, capers, raisins, almonds.
In fact, the very traditional, all-local form of it is:
But' Negro
2 lb. ground pork
1 cube red recado
1 cube black recado
1/2 cup vinegar
4 tomatoes
1/2 onion
1 xkatik chile
Proceed as for previous recipe.  The same comments apply.
Variant:
8 tomatoes
1 xkatik chile
2 lb. ground pork
1/2 cube steak recado
1 cube achiote paste
1 pinch cumin
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
Roast and peel the tomatoes and chile.  Dissolve the spices in water.  Add to meat.    Cook all in a frying pan, stirring.  Chop the onion and garlic and add; they should fry up in the fat from the meat.  Eat with tortilla chips.
Chocolomo
The name is "mestiza Maya"; choko is Maya for "hot," lomo is Spanish for "loin."  Supposedly, the name comes not from the heat of the cooked dish, but from the fact that this was, and is, the traditional way to cook a freshly-butchered animal whose meat is still warm.  The purpose of this dish is to use the more delicate parts of the animal—loin and innards—before they spoil.  It is the standard "variety meats" dish in much of the south Mexico.
Pork or beef heart, and small pieces of tripe
1 lb. pork or beef loin
Liver, kidney
Brain (optional)
Soup bones
Cube of steak recado
1 head of garlic
Juice of 1/2 bitter orange
4 tomatoes
1 onion, cut up
Sprig of cilantro
Sprig of mint
Chiles to taste
Clean the various meats well.  Before cooking, the meat of the kidneys has to be trimmed of fat and thoroughly cut away from the tough white tubule system, and then soaked in water for a while.  Discard this water after soaking.  This process makes kidneys taste good instead of gross.
Cook the meat with the recados.  Start with the heart, tripe, bones, and any tough cuts.  Cook for an hour or more.  Add the loin and cook a while longer.  Then add the liver and kidney; cook for a little more.  Add the brain (it is very delicate and cooks fast), vegetables and herbs.  Serve with Basic Relish, lime wedges, xni-pek, and other garnishes; it is traditional to have a fairly full board of relishes and garnishes with this dish. 
Variants:  People use whatever mix of "variety meats" is available.  If you don't like the innards, it is perfectly possible to make this dish with just pork loin (as the name implies).
Cabbage, chayote, xkatik chiles, radishes, and other vegetables are added to this dish, according to taste.
Chorizo
2 lb. pork
1 tsp. pepper
5 allspice berries
1 glass sherry
1 cup vinegar
Nutmeg
1 dried chile, seeded, toasted and ground
Grind the pork twice.  Grind the spices and add.  Mix all ingredients and knead well.  Let stand a while, then stuff into sausage skins.  Smoke over smoldering fire including aromatic leaves such as guava, allspice or avocado. 
It is possible to make patties and cook directly, without the sausage skins and the smoking process.  In this case, try forming the patties around some aromatic leaves (bay leaves, herbs, etc.).
Cochinita Pibil
With this, we reach the crowning glory and fame of Yucatecan cuisine.   It goes back to pre-Columbian times; the pit barbecue, a worldwide cooking method, was sacred to the Maya--or at least was used to prepare the sacred foods. 
Unfortunately, this is also the easiest Yucatecan dish to ruin.  I confess I have tried it only with pork roast, and only in the oven.  I have ruined a few roasts even with this simplified form.
1 piglet, cleaned (ca. 10 lb., or up to 20), with all its innards, or a large pork roast (plus a pork liver, if you like liver)
3-4 cubes red recado, or mix equivalent amount of achiote with clove, cumin, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon and bitter orange juice to make up a paste.
Juice of 5 bitter oranges
Ground chile
Salt and pepper to taste (traditionally, a lot)
Mint leaves
2 xkatik chiles, cut up
Chives (or green onions)
Salt
Banana leaves, for wrapping
Relish:
2 red onions, finely chopped
Juice of one bitter orange
Chopped chiles
Dilute the recado in the juice of 5 of the oranges.  Rub this well into the meat and let it marinate overnight.  If using a pork roast, slash it and rub the marinade into the cuts.
Now, dig a pit about 4' by 4' by 3' or more.  Heat rocks as hot as you can get them in a fire of very hot-burning wood.  Transfer these into the pit.  Put over them a layer of wet leaves.
Put the pork in a large, high-sided roasting pan and wrap thoroughly with banana leaves.  (If none is available, use any flavorful, safe leaves and wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil.)
Separately wrap the brain (or leave it out).  The liver should be wrapped separately, with chopped-up mint, chives, green chile and salt.  (If liver is not liked, do this with some of the meat.) 
For a really thorough job of using all the pig, chop up the fat, mix with the blood and some spices, and pack into the carefully-cleaned small intestines, thus making blood sausage.  Cook with the rest.
Put the pork in the pit.  Cover carefully with a fitting metal cover.  Bury under a good foot of dirt.
Leave overnight.  (Times range from four to twelve hours, but the longer the cooking, the better the result.)
Serve with the raw onions, chopped, marinated with chopped chile (and sometimes tomato) in the juice of the remaining bitter orange.  Naturally, fresh habaneros are the chile of choice, but milder forms can be substituted.
Tomato or chile sauce is also often served.
In the Chetumal market, where many stalls sell cochinita pibil, the accompanying sauce is quite different, and wonderful with the dish: a simple guacamole made by mixing avocado and xkatik chiles, about half and half.  (Some stalls use more avocado, some use more chile.)  These are mashed to a smooth paste.  Some lime juice can be added, to good effect.  This is a really outstanding sauce for cochinita.
Fortunately for apartment-dwellers (and lazy people like me), this dish is perfectly easy to make in a regular oven, though it never tastes quite so good as when made in a pib.  The secret is to wrap it thoroughly and cover it well, so that no liquid or steam escapes, and then cook it VERY SLOWLY--200o--for several hours, until the pork is very thoroughly done.  A lot of liquid should result.  
It is possible to wrap it thinly and roast at regular temperature (375o).  Indeed, this is what almost all restaurants do, especially Yucatecan-style ones that are not in Yucatan!  This produces perfectly good roast pork, but it isn't cochinita pibil, any more than orange soda is Dom Perignon. 
The best cochinita pibil is found before dawn in the village marketplaces, where the farmers are getting a quick breakfast before going off to their milpas--cornfields--for a day's work.  The cochinita, prepared by one of the country folk the night before, is freshly dug up and still hot and juicy.  The cool air, wood smoke scent, and quiet Maya conversation add much to the experience.
Gopher
A traditional Maya dish.  So far, I haven't tried it.  You are welcome to do the experimenting with this one.
Trap a gopher.  Roast (don't skin, don't clean, just roast).  Rub the carbonized hair off.  Take all the meat, innards included, off the bones.  Mix with salt, bitter orange or lime juice, and chile sauce (or use these as a garnish).  Make tacos of this with fresh tortillas.  (The true outback thing to do is to pick the meat off the bones with the tortilla pieces.)
This is sometimes referred to, with more rhyme than reverence, as baj yetel u taj, "gopher with its dung."
K'ab ik ("Chile Stew")
2 lb. beef with bones
2 cubes red recado, and a bit of extra achiote paste
1 cube steak recado
Pinch of allspice, or allspice berries
2-4 dried ancho chiles (I hope no one reads that as "24 dried chiles")
2 sprigs epazote
Bitter oranges
1 head garlic
4 tomatoes
1 onion
Cut up and boil the meat.  Add the recados, with a pinch of allspice powder or a few allspice berries. 
Seed, toast and soak the chiles.  Grind and add.
When the meat is soft, add epazote, juice of 1/2 bitter orange (or 1 lime), and a head of roasted garlic (peeled and mashed).  
Add the tomatoes and onion, cut up, and finish cooking.
Serve with salsas.
Kibi
This is by far the most popular of the Lebanese contributions to Yucatecan food.  Kibis are sold on every busy street corner.  They have become so thoroughly Yucatecan that they appear on the menus of Yucatecan restaurants in Mexico City and Los Angeles!
The standard street kibi is uninspiring: ground lamb, bulgur, chopped onion and mint, formed into a depth-bomb (fusiform) shape and deep-fried.  It is often served with a relish of chopped cabbage, chile and cilantro in vinegar.
A more authentic Yucatan Lebanese kibi recipe (from a booklet of Lebanese cooking in Yucatan, by Maria Manzur de Borge, that I have lost and that is no longer available) gives a better product:
2 lb. beef
2 lb. leg of lamb meat
1 lb. fine bulgur
Bunch of mint
3 onions
Handful of pine nuts (pinon nuts, pignolias)
Oil
Salt
Black pepper and chile, if wanted
Separate the fatter from the leaner bits of meat.  Mince the meat and the onions.  Soak the bulgur for an hour. 
Mix the leaner meat with the bulgur and one of the chopped onions.  Fry the fatter meat with two of the chopped onions.  Add the pine nuts.
When the fat is fried out of the meat, drain and mix with the lean meat.  Form into depth-bomb shapes and deep-fry.  A lower fat alternative (perfectly traditional) is to bake in a baking tray.
Lomitos
2 lb. pork, cut up
1 cube red recado
Juice of 1 bitter orange
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. lard
1 lb. tomatoes
2 xkatik chiles (or other fresh chiles, even to habaneros)
1 roasted head of garlic
Rub the pork with the recado mixed with the juice.
Chop and fry the onion in the lard.  Add the tomato and chiles.  Put in the pork.  Add water and simmmer.  Add in the garlic and cook till done.
Old Rags
Ropa vieja--so named from its appearance, like old shredded rags--is a classic dish known throughout Mexico and the Spanish Caribbean.  This is the Yucatan version.
1 lb. leftover stewed pork or beef (if starting from scratch, stew the meat a LONG time, till it is "boiled to rags")
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
5 tomatoes
1 bell pepper and/or 1 xkatik chile pepper
1-3 sprigs or small branches of epazote
1/2 cup bitter orange juice
1 cube red recado
2 tsp. black pepper
Salt to taste
Shred the meat into small fibres. 
Chop up the vegetables and fry, starting with the onion and garlic.  Add the meat and fry all.
Many variants of this recipe exist.  Tomato sauce, other spicing, etc. can be tried.
In much of the Caribbean this dish is served with "Moors and Christians" (cooked black beans mixed with white rice). 
The famous Cuban version of this dish is much spicier.  It uses much more garlic, and really hot chiles instead of mild ones.  You can vary this recipe accordingly.  3 dried ancho chiles, ground, is a good start.
Om Sikil (Pipian I)
This is a village recipe, extremely conservative--basically pre-Columbian (note lack of frying and lack of any nonnative ingredient except black pepper).
The Nahuatl word "pipian" has almost displaced the ancient Maya name om sikil, but the latter is still heard.
2 cups sikil
6-8 cups water
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp. ground pepper
2 achiote cubes dissolved in water
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 red chiles
2 lb. meat or fowl
1 cup sour abal (Yucatan "plum"; substitute sour plums)
1 tbsp. lard
4 oz. masa
Mix the sikil with the water.  Strain.  Bring to boil and add the chopped vegetables.  Cook ten minutes.  Add in the meat and spices.  Cook till meat is tender, about 1 hour.  Toward the end, add the abal or sour plum fruits.
Take out 2 cups stock.  Slowly work into it 1 tbsp. lard and 4 oz. masa.  Return this to the soup to thicken it.
It is perfectly possible to dispense with this thickening step.
Pipian
Compare Om Sikil, above.
4 oz. sikil
3 dried chiles
2 tbsp. achiote
2 garlic cloves
2 lb. meat (any sort), cut up
1 branch epazote
4 tomatillos
1 tbsp. masa
2 tbsp. lard if using lean meat (pan drippings here, definitely not commercial lard)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix sikil with water and bring to boil.
Seed, toast and soak the chiles.  Grind them with pepper, achiote and garlic.  Add to the sikil.
Add the meat, epazote and salt.  Let boil.  Add the tomatoes, blended up.
Thicken the sauce with the masa.  Add the lard.  Cook till done.
Pok Chuk (Maya for "pork chop," usually spelled "poc chuc")
This dish was created by the restaurant Los Almendros of Ticul.  Los Almendros has an old Mérida branch, and now is developing branches elsewhere.  This dish is widely imitated and varied.  What it lacks in complexity, it more than makes up in popularity.  One of the reasons is the beautifully artistic arrangements that can be made with the separate sauces and beans on the plate.
Rub a thin-cut pork chop with steak recado or red recado.  Grill. 
Serve with Tomato Sauce, K'utbi Ik, roast onion, cooked black beans, and bitter orange or lime quarters—each served separately in neat piles around the plate.  Avocado slices and other garnishes are often added as well. 
Pork and Chaya
2 lb. pork
2 tsp. oregano
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
20 chaya leaves (if no chaya is around, substitute 1 bunch Swiss chard)
1/2 cup rice, pre-soaked
1 pinch saffron
Relish:
1 red onion, chopped
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Juice of 2 bitter oranges
Boil the pork.  Add the spices.  When well cooked, add the chaya, rice and saffron.  Simmer till rice is just done, ca. 15 min.
Prepare a relish with the onion, cilantro and bitter orange juice. 
This is a very Moorish-style recipe; Moorish cooking often involves cooking the rice or other starch in with the meat (as well as the addition of saffron).  It produces a rather stodgy dish, especially if overcooked.  Thus, you might well want to cook the rice separately and serve the stew over it.
Pork and Beans I (Frijoles con Puerco)
This dish is the local variant of a dish universal in the west Mediterranean world:  south France, Spain, Portugal.  Always, it involves beans of one or another type, with various tough parts of the pig.  This black-bean version is a sacred Yucatecan tradition.  It is often served regularly on a particular day of the week (the day varies from place to place) as the Daily Special.  Whoever said neck bones were low?  They're among the best parts of the pig.  Also, true Yucatecans are sometimes militant about the tail and ear, but non-Yucatecans can be forgiven for leaving them out!
1 lb. black beans
1 lb. pork meat, cut up
1/2 lb. pork neck bones 
1 pig tail, cleaned
1 pig's ear
1 tbsp. black recado
1 tbsp. red recado
4 chopped tomatoes
1 branch epazote
3 oz. lard
1 tbsp. masa
Cook the beans.  Cut up the pork and add. 
Dilute the recados in half a glass of water and add to the above.
Fry the tomatoes and epazote in lard.  Add in the masa and half a glass of water and cook till thick.  Add this to the stew.  Cook a minute more and serve forth.
Serve as is, or remove the pork from the beans and serve them separately.  Either way, a full range of relishes and garnishes should be provided, but must always include chopped radish with onion and cilantro in bitter orange or lime juice; and Tomato Sauce or K'utbi Ik on the side.
Rice is often cooked in the cooking liquid (after initial frying) and served separately.
"Red" variant:  Use more red recado (2-3 tbsp. or even more) and some ground allspice.
Pork and Beans II
This is a Yucatecan variant of a more Peninsular-Spanish version of the same dish.  In Spain the beans would be white--originally fava beans, now white frijoles.  In Yucatan red beans are sometimes used, and are very good in this dish.
1 lb. white or red beans
1 lb. pork
1 lb. pork ribs
6 cubes red recado
Vinegar
1/4 cabbage
1 summer squash
2 plantains
1 lb. potatoes
3 oz. raw ham
2 oz. bacon
2 Spanish chorizos
4 tomatoes
1 onion
1 bell pepper
4 green chiles
1/2 lb. lard
Salt to taste
Cook the beans.
Cut up the pork and ribs.  Add the red recado dissolved in vinegar.
When the pork is mostly done, add the beans, and the squash, cabbage, plantains, and potatoes (all cut up).
Separately, fry the chorizo, bacon and ham.  Add the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and chiles.  Fry.  Add a bit of vinegar.  Mix into meat and beans at last minute and simmer a while.
Variation comes by adding or subtracting different sorts of preserved pork products.
Pork and White Beans
By contrast, this is a very traditional, very Maya recipe.  White navy beans, dried limas or black-eyed peas may be used.
2 lb. white beans
2 lb. pork, preferably leg meat and ribs
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. red recado
Water
1 xkatik chile
1 head garlic, roasted
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the beans.  When mostly done, add the pork, previously fried in its own fat (i.e. cook, preferably in stickproof pan, till some of its own fat renders out to fry it; you may have to add some water at first).
In this fat, fry the chopped vegetables with red recado dissolved in water or bitter orange juice.
Combine all ingredients and cook till done.
P'uyul de Chicharron K'astak'an ("small pieces of thoroughly-cooked chicharrones")
A very Maya dish.
Take bits of pork skin attached to fat and meat--i.e. like chicharrones but with the meat attached, not just the skin.  Deep-fry for a very long time, till thoroughly crisp.  Eat in tacos with Basic Relish or similar garnishes.
Low-fat variant: pan-fry or grill bits of pork.
Steak a la Valladolid (Bifstek vallisoletana)
A simple but wonderful recipe.  Valladolid (Yucatan) is the center of the highly traditional maize-growing region of eastern Yucatan state and neighboring Quintana Roo.  It is a homeland of simple, filling, but superb foods.
Rub a thin steak or pork fillet in recado of black pepper, garlic, lime juice and salt.  Then rub on red recado made of one cube achiote paste, lime juice, ground cumin and a little ground clove, dissolved in bitter orange or lime juice.  Marinate an hour or more.  Grill.
Stuffed Chayote ("Chayote Slippers")
A manifestation of the classic stuffed vegetable dishes of Middle Eastern cooking—another Moorish legacy in Spain; note the distinctive suite of Spanish ingredients, the olives, capers, and raisins, appearing yet again.
Basically a variant of Stuffed Squash, below.
1 lb. ground pork
1 onion
1 bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 tomato
4 chayotes
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup oil
Olives, capers, and raisins (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the chayotes.  Cut in half lengthwise, removing the central seed.  (The result looks like a slipper.)
Meanwhile, cook the meat in a frying pan.  In the rendered fat, cook the tomato, onion, and pepper, chopped.  Add the olives, capers and raisins.  Cook this mixture down till dry.
With this, stuff the chayotes.  Bake in a pan for a few minutes till it all holds together. 
Stuffed Cheese
A thoroughly Spanish-style dish, with Moorish antecedents, now thoroughly nativized in the Yucatan Peninsula.  Large Dutch Goudas--alas, often of a quality too low to be seen in the home country--are sold everywhere, wrapped in red wax and red plastic wrap. 
There may still be a few proper ladies who refer to it as chak chi, Maya for "red edge," since queso is one of the many, many, many words that have a double meaning in Yucatan.  (The same ladies refer to brown sugar as piloncillo, never panoche, and refer to eggs as blanquillos--"little white things.") 
These large cheeses are often sold by the slice in rural markets.  Only the rich can afford the luxury of using a whole ball for a single dish.
Unlike most Yucatecan specialties, this dish is a cholesterol-avoider's nightmare.
1 ball of Dutch cheese
2 lb. pork
14 eggs, 12 of them hardboiled
3 cloves garlic
Dried oregano to taste (use a lot)
1 clove (or more)
Oil
Raisins, olives, and capers, to taste (a lot)
Lard
Saffron, to taste (optional)
1 cup flour
2 cups of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 xkatik chiles
2 serrano chiles
1 bell pepper
1 lb. tomato
1 lb. onion
Unwrap the cheese, remove the wax, cut in half and hollow out.
Cook the meat.  Save the stock.
Peel the boiled eggs.  Chop up the whites.
Prepare a recado by grinding together the garlic, oregano, clove and saffron.
Mince the pork.  Mix in the egg whites.  Fry with a bit of the recado.  Add generous amounts of raisins, olives, capers, and 3-4 oz. of the scooped-out part of the cheese.
Take off the fire and mix in the two raw eggs and the saffron.  Stuff the cheese with this mixture.
Seal the cheese shut with the flour (made into paste with a bit of water).
Wrap in a cloth and steam (or boil, but the water coming up only an inch or so) for an hour (adding water if necessary).  Don't worry if it falls apart.  It often does.
Serve with a sauce, as follows:
Roast the chiles, tomatoes and onion.  Skin.  Chop fine and fry in lard.  Add the meat stock and the rest of the recado.  Add more capers, olives and raisins.  Thicken with a bit of flour.
Cut the cheese in quarters and cover with the sauce.
The flavor of this recipe depends heavily on the use of a lot of recado, capers and olives.  Otherwise, it is bland and greasy to a serious degree.
Variant:  Shrimps and other sea foods are sometimes used for the stuffing.
Stuffed Squash
A dish with Spanish and, ultimately, Moorish roots, adapted to New World squash.  Very similar dishes are prepared by more recent Arab immigrants, especially of the Lebanese community that developed in the late 19th century in Yucatan; see below.  Moreover, this dish has rebounded to the homeland; stuffed Mexican summer squashes, prepared with recipes very similar to this one but substituting lamb for pork, now universally join the original stuffed eggplants and so on, throughout the Middle East and the Arabic world.
6-8 summer squash
1/2 lb. ground pork
4 cloves
Small stick cinnamon
6 leaves oregano
4 cloves of garlic, roasted
Vinegar
Pinch of saffron
Around 20 raisins
1 tsp. capers
Olives, as desired
Almonds, as desired
4 tomatoes
1 onion
2 xkatik chiles or 1 bell pepper
Lard or oil (olive oil is traditional, and best)
Pork stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Blanch the squash and hollow out.
Fry the ground pork.  If it is fat, enough fat will render out to fry it; if it is lean, add a little lard or oil.
Grind the spices, except the saffron, and make into a recado paste with a little vinegar.  Add to the pork.
Add the vegetables (chopped finely; the onions first), then the saffron (not all of it), raisins, olives, almonds and capers. 
Stuff the squash with this mix.  Bake, or cook on stove top in a pan with a little water, until squash is soft. 
Prepare a sauce by cooking down the stock with some vinegar, saffron, salt, and, if wanted, a little flour to thicken.  Pour over the squash.  Some form of tomato sauce is often used with or instead of this sauce.
Variants: the raisins, olives, almonds, and capers can be left out.  The sauces can also be dispensed with.
Variant:  A Lebano-Yucatecan version uses lamb, pine nuts, tomato and cinnamon as the basic stuffing.  It can be modified by adding the chiles, etc.
Tablecloth Stainer (manchamanteles)
One Yucatan variant of a very widespread and popular Mexican dish.  The sauce is brilliant red and leaves an almost permanent stain, hence the name.
2 lb. pork loin (or other meat)
Lard for frying
Meat stock
4 dried ancho chiles
2/3 lb. tomato
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves
8 allspice berries
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1 plantain
1/2 lb. potatoes
1 sweet potato
Cut up the meat.  Fry in lard.  Toast the chiles.  Roast the tomato, onion, and garlic.  Blend these with the chiles.  Grind the spices and mix in. 
Add these to the meat.  Add the stock.  Simmer till meat is done.
Separately, boil the plantain, potatoes, and sweet potato.  When done, add to the meat. 
In central Mexico this dish would usually have a lot more chiles, of 2, 3 or even 4 varieties.  I prefer that to the Yucatan form.  But the Yucatan form has more subtle, harmonious spicing and more vegetables, and the wonderful roasted tomato-onion flavor.  Nobody says you can't have it all....
Tasajo with Chaya, I
2 lb. tasajo (salted airdried beef), soaked and cooked for a very long time
3 cubes red recado
1 lb. chaya leaves
2 summer squash
1 bitter orange
1 roasted head of garlic
Juice of 2 limes
3 habanero chiles
Soak the tasajo for a long time in several changes of cold water.  Then wash and cut up.
Boil with the recado for a couple of hours.  Then add the squash (cut up), garlic and chayas.  Cook another 15 minutes.
Take the ingredients out of the stock.  Squeeze the bitter orange (or a couple of limes) over them.  Serve the soup separately. 
Seed and roast the chiles.  Mash with salt and lime juice.  Serve on the side.
Variant:  The meat and chaya can be taken out of the stock before quite done, chopped finely and fried with onion or garlic.  I like this better.
This recipe would work with corned beef or even with a tough cut of fresh beef.
Tasajo with Chaya, II
2 lb. tasajo (salted dried beef), soaked and cooked for a very long time
1 lb. chaya leaves
2 oz. bacon
2 oz. chopped ham
4 cloves
4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the meat, bacon, ham and flavorings.  Add water and cook 30 minutes. 
Boil the chaya leaves and blend.  Fry this in a little oil.  Put over the meat and cook.
Variants:  This sauce is also ideal with fish.  Add any other greens to the chaya.  More or different spicing can be used.
Ts'aanchak (familiar as dzanchac in older spelling)
A traditional way to cook deer, from long before the Europeans came.  Now adapted to Spanish-introduced animals.
1 lb. beef, any cut (this is a good way to use tough or bony cuts, etc.)
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, chopped
6 ears sweet corn (optional)
2 summer squash, cut up (optional)
2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
Relish:
1 bunch radishes, cut up very finely
1 habanero chile, cut up
1 onion, cut up finely
1/2 cup cilantro, cut up
Juice of 1 bitter orange
Salt to taste
Boil the meat till tender. 
When almost done, add the vegetables (if wanted—this is often just a meat dish).
Serve with the relish--the cut-up ingredients marinated in the citrus juice.  Slices of bitter lime can be used as flavorful garnish, if you can get them. 
The vegetables are optional; any combination can be used.  The Maya village version is simply boiled deer meat with the relish. 
The stock is critical here.  Tough, lean, flavorful meat should be used, and simmered slowly for a long time, to produce a really good stock.  It is eaten as soup, accompanying the meat, like the ancestral peasant form of French bouillon et bouilli.  Naturally, this is also accompanied by a constant stream of fresh-made tortillas from home-grown corn.
There are many variants (see e.g. Conaculta Oceano 2000b:52).
Ts'ik
1 lb. venison, cooked (any other meat can be substituted)
2 tomatoes
1 onion
Several radishes
10-20 sprigs cilantro
1 jalapeño chile
Juice of 4 bitter oranges
Cut up and boil the venison.  Cut up the other ingredients and serve with the cooked meat. 
This is better if the venison is marinated before cooking, and better still if it is cooked in an earth oven (pib) rather than boiled.  
A very simple standard.  This is the way ordinary Maya prepare the leaner types of meat—traditionally, venison—for a quick lunch.
By shredding the meat and mixing it with the relish, one creates the dish known as "balinche salad," above, or by other names.
White and Gold Stew
A superb, elegant dish, this stew is thoroughly Spanish in origin, and thus out of place in this book—but too good to leave out!
1 lb. meat (anything will do)
4 cloves
Small cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 packets saffron, dissolved in a little water
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 head garlic, roasted
Salt to taste
2 oz. vinegar
Olive oil (or lard or vegetable oil)
1 bunch green onions, roasted
Green chiles, to taste
Sugar to taste
Grind the spices (or use ground ones to begin with).  Rub into the meat, with the salt.  Brown the meat over low heat.  Add water, vinegar, oil, the sugar (if desired) and the vegetables. 
Variants: a little sherry can be added.  Red recado can be used.
Xakan jaanal 
Maya for "mixed food," which this certainly is.  It is a particularly good and easy dish.  A good contrast to the previous; this is a solid village dish.
2 lb. pork ribs
1 10-oz. package frozen lima beans or black-eyed peas
3 garlic cloves
1-2 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Branch of epazote
2 chayotes
1 kohlrabi
1 head cabbage
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 xkatik chiles, chopped
1 cup rice
Cook the pork.  When it is nearly done, add the beans, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and epazote.
Cut up the chayote, kohlrabi and cabbage.  Add into the pork and beans.
Separately, fry the chopped onion.  Add in the tomato and chiles.  Add in the rice and fry a while.  When it begins to stick, add in enough broth from the pork and beans to cover to depth of 1/2 to 3/4 inch.  Simmer over very low heat till the liquid is absorbed.
Serve the pork and vegetables over the rice.
Variants: this dish is infinitely expandable.  It can also be contracted perfectly well by leaving out the chayotes, kohlrabi and cabbage, or replacing them with any appropriate vegetable.  Eggs are sometimes added to hardboil in the stock.
Yucatan Stew
1 lb. meat
1 head of garlic, roasted, mixed with juice of one bitter orange
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-2 cloves
1 pinch cumin seeds
Sprig of fresh oregano or tsp. dried oregano
1 small bunch cilantro
3 tomatoes or 6 tomatillos
1 large green chile
1 onion, chopped; and/or a whole green onion, leaves and all except the tough top ends
Cook the meat.  When it comes to boil, add the spices.  When it is soft, chop or blend up the vegetables, fry, and add.
Eat with Basic Relish.
POULTRY
Chicken Adobo
1 chicken
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ tsp oregano
Large stick of cinnamon
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 oz. red recado
1 lb potatoes
½ onion
2 mild chiles, chopped
1 lb tomatoes, chopped
Cut up the chicken and boil.  Mash the garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and peppercorns together.  Add these and the potatoes, cut up, and cook till chicken is nearly done.  Then mix recado with some of the the stock.  Fry the onion, chiles and tomatoes.  Add these to the mix and finish cooking quickly.
Chicken Asado
This dish is great as is, but is far, far more commonly used as the start of something else.  This is the cooked chicken that is used in panuchos, salbutes, tamales, and a million other "small eats" and made dishes. 
It was originally done with turkey, and often still is.
1 chicken
1 oz. red recado mixed with lime juice, lard or chicken stock, and more salt
½ onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, cut up
1 hot chile

Cut up and boil the chicken until almost but not quite done.  Take it out of the stock; save the stock.  Rub the chicken with most of the recado mix and roast it in a hot oven (ca. 375o).  At this point, if you are making this chicken only to use in panuchos or the like, set the chicken out to cool and then pull the meat off it.
Then, mix the rest of the recado into the stock.  Add the onion, tomatoes, and chile to the stock.  Cook and serve as soup with the chicken if you still have it, or, if the chicken's destiny is otherwise, add noodles and/or potatoes and  other vegetables and a little of the dark meat of the chicken to the soup and finish cooking.
This dish has to be carefully made if you use United States chickens, which are very tender.  They tend to fall apart if boiled very long.  This dish requires that the chicken be boiled only enough to tenderize it and sterilize it.  If it falls apart, it can't be roasted properly.
Variant:  this is made with black recado, too, especially if one is using turkey.
Chicken a la Motul
2 chickens
1/2 cup red recado
Juice of 2 bitter oranges
Lard
10 fried tortillas
3 large tomatoes
1 lb. refried beans
4 oz. cooked ham
Canned peas for garnish (or 1 10-oz pack frozen peas—untraditional but far preferable)
3 oz. grated Mexican sharp white cheese (if unavailable, use feta)
Salt to taste
Rub the chickens with salt and recado dissolved in the orange juice.  Boil in a little water.  Drain; fry.  Take the meat off the bones and shred the meat.
Boil the tomatoes in a very little salted water.  Blend and fry in the oil.
To serve:  Layer beans on a plate.  Put a fried tortilla on this.  Add the shredded chicken.  Then add the tomato sauce.  Cover with another tortilla.  Pour sauce over all.  On the top of this stack, put the ham, peas, and grated cheese. 
Variants:  Turkey is more traditional, but very rarely found now in this dish.
The chicken can be cut up, and used bone-in, rather than boned and shredded.
This is only one of those architectural marvels of Motul cuisine.   Motuleños love to pile foods on a tortilla and top with some peas.  Possibly the Maya pyramids inspired it all.  It is more cooking for the eye than cooking for the palate, however.
Chicken a la Ticul
Ticul is a large town in southern Yucatan, famous for its pottery, shoemaking, and food.
1 chicken, cut up
Lard
2 oz. ham, chopped
2 heads lettuce, chopped
2 potatoes, cooked, chopped
1 stick cinnamon
6 peppercorns
2 cloves
4 large oregano leaves (or 1 tsp. ground oregano)
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
4 tbsp. vinegar
Grated Mexican sharp white cheese (or feta)
Green peas (traditionally canned, but briefly-cooked frozen peas are far better)
Salt to taste
Boil the chicken.  Drain, saving the stock.  Fry in the lard with the ham, lettuce and potato.
Grind the spices, onion, garlic and vinegar.  Add this to the stock and boil till it thickens.
Serve the chicken with this sauce poured over it.  Top with grated cheese and peas.
Variant:  The chicken can be breaded and fried.  Fried beans are often an accompaniment.  Other garnishes include red pepper strips, fried platano, etc.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:45)
Chicken Chirmole
1 chicken
5 mulato chiles (or other dried chiles; mulato specified because the common ancho is a bit sweet for this recipe, but mulatos are rarely findable in Yucatan, so ancho is very often used)
1/2 cup sikil
5 toasted tortillas
5 peppercorns
1/2 onion
4 tbsp. lard
Salt to taste
Cut up and boil the chicken. 
Blend the chiles (seeded, toasted and soaked), sikil, tortillas, pepper and onion.  Note: the quality of the tortillas matters a lot in this dish.  Get good, fresh ones.
Fry this sauce in the lard.  Add two cups of the chicken stock.  Add the chicken and cook till sauce thickens somewhat.
Variant:  Allspice and garlic can be added with profit.  Ground blanched almonds make a very good substitute for sikil in this recipe.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:45)
Chicken in Bread Crumbs (Fried Chicken)
Not the most exciting dish, but too universal in Yucatan to ignore.
1 chicken, cut up
Lime juice
Salt and pepper
1 egg
Flour
Breadcrumbs
Oil
Boil the chicken.  Then take out and marinate in lime juice, salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, make a batter by beating the egg with flour.  Dip the chicken in this, then roll in breadcrumbs.  Deep-fry.
The advantage of this village method is that, since the chicken is already cooked, one leaves it in the boiling oil only long enough to crisp the outside into a shell.  The result should be very crisp and not even slightly greasy.
Chicken Pibil
1 large chicken
1 cube red recado
2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of ground oregano
6 cloves garlic, roasted and mashed
Juice of 2 bitter oranges (or 4 tbsp. cider vinegar)
12 leaves of epazote
4 pieces of tomato
Chopped onion
Chopped chile
1 tbsp. lard
Salt to taste
Cut up chicken into quarters.  Rub with spice mix (the spices dissolved in the bitter orange juice).  Anoint banana leaves in lard and wrap the chicken quarters--with a few epazote leaves, a slice of tomato, and a some chopped onion and chile on each quarter.  Cook in a pib.
If baking in an oven, use a covered dish.  The idea is to hold in all the steam, so none of the aroma is lost.  Many a chicken pibil has been utterly ruined by baking without proper attention to this detail.  One warning:  If you do this, be sure the orange juice and the tomato don't supply too much liquid, or you'll get chicken soup instead of chicken pibil.
Naturally, one can vary the spice mix.  Unauthentic but good is to add powdered chile pepper to the recado.
Chicken with Potatoes a la Quintana Roo
A very standard dish in the area I lived and worked in, out in central Quintana Roo.
1 chicken, cut up
Oil
5 oregano leaves
5 allspice berries
1 slice of onion
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cube red recado or achiote paste
Juice of one bitter orange
3 tomatoes, roasted and blended up
1 xkatik chile
1/2 bell pepper (optional)
1 jalapeno chile
1 lb. potatoes (small new potatoes, or cut-up larger ones)
Fry the chicken lightly in the oil, with the spices. 
Blend up the onion, garlic and recado in the orange juice.  Add to the chile and add just enough water to cook.
Separately, fry the tomato and the peppers, chopped.
Add to the chicken.  Add in the potatoes and finish cooking.
Like many Quintana Roo dishes, this is very delicately spiced, and you may want to raise the amount of oregano, allspice and black pepper.
Chilmole
A relative of the "Turkey in Black Sauce" below
1 chicken, cut up
1 tsp oregano
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp pepper
2 oz black recado, or make or approximate your own (see recipe above)
2 tomatoes
2 onions
Several dried chiles (1-2 anchos, or a few smaller chiles)
4 oz masa
½ c white flour
Boil the chicken.  Grind the spices and garlic together, add to recado, add to stew.  Roast the onion in the ashes.  Add it and the tomatoes to the stew.
Toast the chiles (traditionally until completely black).  DO THIS OUTDOORS, STANDING UPWIND; the smoke is intensely irritating.  Add.  Cook 45 min. Knead the masa and flour together.  Add to stew, mix thoroughly to thicken stew, and cook for 10 min.
Variants:  Pork can be added to this.  The black recado can be left out, since it merely adds more to the toasted chiles and spices.  Fresh chiles, roasted, can be used (but are not traditional).
Cuban Rice
A Quintana Roo dish, reminding us of the links between the
Mexican Caribbean and Cuba.  The Quintana Roo version seems to my taste to use more lime and herbs, less achiote and oil, than the Cuban. 
1 chicken, cut up
Oregano, to taste
1 cube steak recado
7 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes
1 slice onion
1 bell pepper
3 cups rice
Lard
1 cup green peas (traditionally canned, but fresh or frozen are far better)
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the chicken with oregano, the spices, and 5 of the garlic cloves.
Blend or chop finely the tomato, bell pepper, and onion.  Fry.  Add to stock. 
Fry the rice with the other two garlic cloves.
Add the stock to this and simmer.  When partly cooked, add the peas, chicken, and lime juice.  Cook till rice is tender.
K'oolij blanco ("white stew")

1 chicken
1 small xkatik chile (or ½ bell pepper for chile avoiders)
2 cloves
Few cumin seeds
Few allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
Head of garliic
1 tsp crushed oregano leaves
2 sprigs epazote
Salt
Pepper
Sprig of mint
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
Roast chicken unitl almost done, on grill.  Boil with xkatik or bell pepper.  Mash the spices and garlic together and add to stew.  Add oregano and epazote.  Add mint at end.
Separately fry the onion and tomato to sofrito.  Add to stew near end of cooking, and cook just to get all mixed.
Mukbipollo
"Mestiza Maya"--Maya for "buried" (mukbij) and Spanish for "chicken."
John Stephens' classic account is too wonderful to miss:
"A friendly neighbour...sent us a huge piece of mukbipoyo.  It was as hard as an oak plank, and as thick as six of them;...in a fit of desperation we took it out into the courtyard and buried it.  There it would have remained till this day but for a malicious dog which accompanied them [the friendly neighbours] on their next visit; he passed into the courtyard, rooted it up, and, while we were pointing to the empty platters as our acknowledgment [sic] of their kindness, this villanous [sic] dog sneaked through the sala and out the front door with the pie in his mouth, apparently grown bigger since it was buried." (Stephens 1843:21-22.)
Alas, all who travel in rural Yucatan today encounter these cement mukbipollos.  Fortunately, this situation is easy to prevent. 
The following is an elaborate village version.
1 chicken
2 lb. pork (optional)
1 cube red recado
1-2 tsp. steak recado (or just another half cube of the red)
Branch of epazote
Few oregano leaves
5" stick of cinnamon
Tsp. ground allspice or several allspice berries
2 cloves
5 roasted garlic cloves
4 tomatoes
3 onions
2 xkatik chiles
8 lb. masa
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut up and boil the meat in a lot of water.  Grind the spices and add.
Separately cook the tomatoes and onions in a very little water with 1 tbsp. lard, and boil 10-15 min. till a sauce is formed. 
Take out a cup of stock.  Mix one fourth of the masa into the remaining stock and meat--slowly and carefully, so that lumps do not form. 
Work the reserved cup of stock into the rest of the masa.  If the stock isn't rich and fatty, you will have to add lard or oil, typically about ¼ cup.  Again, work slowly. 
With this mix, shape small pie shells like the familiar little chicken or steak pot pies of European and American cooking.  Fill with the meat.  Top with the tomato sauce.  Cover with a top crust of masa.  Rub over with thinned masa to seal.  Wrap in several layers of leaves.  Tie tightly to make a bundle.  Bury these in the pib. 
The feast from which this recipe comes was cooked in a pib 3' by 3' and 1 1/2' deep.  My next door neighbors in Quintana Roo, Elsi Ramirez and her family, dug it in their front yard.  Good firewood (the local equivalent of oak or mesquite) was put in, with large cobble-sized rocks on top of it.  The wood was burned till it became ash and the rocks changed color.  Then palm leaves were put over these until they were thoroughly covered.  The mukbipollos, wrapped in banana leaves and then in palm leaves, were then put in.  A metal cover was put over all, and dirt piled over it.  It was left for 3 hours.
In urban realms where you can't dig up the yard:  Line a baking dish with banana leaves (or, failing that, foil).  Put the pies in, or just make one huge pie by pressing the masa against the banana leaves.  Bake in a slow oven, around 350o, for 3-4 hours.  The exact heat must vary with circumstances.  The idea is to get a soft bottom crust and tougher, somewhat crisped and toasted top crust. 
The oak-plank mukbipollos experienced by Stephens, and many others among us, are a result of using water or thin stock instead of fatty stock, and then baking too long.
Variants:
Ch'a-chaak waj (bread for the ceremony of praying for rain)is made as above, or one can fry achiote in the lard used in the recipe.  The sauce should be thick so that the whole thing is more a cornbread than a pie. 
The chicken can be shredded off the bones before use in the pie.
Dried chickpeas or lima beans, boiled till tender, can be added. 
Spicing changes with the cook's taste at the moment. 
Chekbij waj
Similar to a mukbipollo, but, instead of making yellow corn meal into a solid piecrust, one uses a very soft, wide, round cake of white masa with a lot of lard and stock worked into it (making it quite red).  The chicken is wrapped in this so the result is more like a tamale than a pie.  It is baked or steamed in leaves like the preceding.
Pabixa'ak' (grilled or roast chicken)
Marinate chicken in red recado dissolved in bitter orange or lime juice, or in the spice mix for Cuban Rice, above.  Marinate for an hour or two, then grill or roast.
Puchero 
1 chicken
Lard
Black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
2-3 cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. oregano
3 garlic cloves
1 white onion
2 tomatoes
1 small summer squash
2 chayotes
2 carrots
2 small bell peppers
2 potatoes
1 or 2 plantains
Cabbage
1 package (8 oz.) fideo noodles
Salt to taste
Sprig of mint
Cut up the chicken, scrub with lime, and fry in lard.  Add salt, 1/4 of the onion, 2 tomatoes.  When all have colored somewhat, add water.  Make recado of the spices; add.  Then add in the vegetables (the plantains cut up but not peeled).  The cabbage goes in only when the other ingredients are fairly thoroughly cooked. 
Saute fideos (thin angel-hair pasta) in a little oil.  Add stock to cook them. 
Angel hair pasta may be substituted, but look for Mexican fideos (thin noodles—from Arabic fidaws, old Andalusian pronunciation fideos, meaning "noodle," singular).  They are thinner, cook faster and have more flavor.
Serve the puchero over these.  Serve with Basic Garnish or close relative thereof. 
Variants:  The main one is that puchero is made with meat as often as with chicken.  Pork or beef neck bones are particularly common and good.  Pork ribs and pieces of stewing beef are also excellent.  Pork and chicken, or pork and beef, are routinely combined in pucheros.
The vegetables, of course, are an open set.  Garbanzos, sweet potatoes and other root crops are typically added.  Sometimes turnips and kohlrabi (the latter surprisingly common in the Yucatan) find their way in.
Thai lime, cut up, is very good in this--served in the bowl, not cooked with the chicken.
Rice is also used.  Any meat can be used instead of, or along with, chicken.  Chicken and pork make a good—and frequent—combination.
Garbanzos are sometimes added.
Rice and Beans
A dish native to Belize.  It has spread just across the border, and nativized in the Caribbean city of Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo.
1 chicken
Coconut oil
1 cube achiote paste
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup cooked red beans
1 plantain
1 onion
Cut up the chicken.  Make a recado of the spices.  Rub into chicken.  Cut up chicken and roast the pieces or fry them in coconut oil. 
Saute rice in coconut oil.  Add coconut cream thinned with some water and cook.  Mix with the beans.  (Excellent canned coconut cream may be found in any Asian-food market.  If you feel compulsive, here's how to make it:  Grate the meat of a very ripe coconut.  Soak the gratings in warm water.  Pack in a cheesecloth and wring out.  This is great for developing the arm muscles.)
Cut plantain into thin strips and fry.  Serve on the side. 
Separately, slice and fry the onion.  Serve over the chicken.  Alternatively, make Marinated Onions (see above) and briefly fry them.
Serve the chicken separately from the rice-bean mix.
Accompany with boiled local vegetables (such as chayote), sliced; chopped cabbage marinated in vinegar, salt and pepper; sliced raw tomatoes; salsa cruda of onion, tomato, cilantro; and xni'pek' (habanero salsa; see above.  Habaneros are just as popular in Belize as in Yucatan.  In Belize they go by the English Caribbean name of "Scotch Bonnet" peppers.)
Salpimentado ("salted and peppered")
2 chickens
1 lb. pork, lean, cut up
2 summer squash
2 potatoes
1 chayote
1 plantain
3 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp. oregano
1 red onion
3 bunches of spring onions (scallions)
2 heads of garlic
2 mild chiles
Salt and pepper to taste
2 white onions
1 cup vinegar
Pinch of salt
1 habanero chile
2 Thai limes (bitter limes)
1 bunch cilantro
Cut up the chickens.  Set to boil with the pork.  Skim, then cook for 15 min.  Chop and add the vegetables  Grind the spices and add.  Cook 20 minutes or more, until all are done.  Meanwhile, roast the red onions, spring onions, chiles, and garlic.  Add them into the soup at the end; cook a minute or so. 
For the relish:  chop the white onions very fine; add the vinegar
Turkey in Black Sauce
Here follow the traditional dishes of the four sacred colors.  Turkey, the only large domestic animal in pre-Columbian times, was the ritual food, and still is to some extent.  (Chickens usually replace it, being easier to raise.) 
1 turkey
1/2 lb. dried chiles
1 tbsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. oregano
15 cloves
1 1/2 tsp. achiote
4 oz. lard
2 onions, chopped
20 leaves epazote
3 lb. tomatoes, chopped
4 lb. ground pork
2 raw eggs
10 hardboiled eggs
2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
Seed the chiles.  Then toast them till they burn (literally catch fire).  DO THIS OUTDOORS, STANDING UPWIND; the smoke can seriously damage eyes.  Be sure no one is downwind.  When the chiles begin to burn, stop the fire by throwing water over them; let them just blacken.  Wash and grind with the spices.  Then blend all in water.
Heat the lard.  Then chop the onions and fry.  When they color, add six epazote leaves and a pound of tomatoes (chopped).  When fried, add the ground meat and half the ground chile mix.
Add the raw eggs and the chopped-up whites of the cooked eggs.
Meanwhile, clean the turkey and rub with salt, pepper and lime juice.  Stuff the turkey with the meat sauce and the egg yolks.
Cook in a closed pot over a low fire.  Add the rest of the ground chile, the tomatoes, the rest of the epazote, and some lard.  Cook till turkey is done.
To make sure the chiles aren't overburned (producing bitter, scorched or sooty tastes), make them a day or two ahead of time, soak them, and discard the water.
Variant:  The village form of this uses a lot of masa (about 6 lb.), stirred into the soup to lengthen it and make it suitable for pib uses.  This makes a pretty stodgy dish, though.
Allspice berries can be added.
Turkey in Red Sauce
1 turkey
1 kg. ground pork
1 tsp. black pepper
Tbsp. oregano
8 cloves
8 peppercorns
2 tbsp. achiote
2 oz. dried chile
10 tomatoes
3 onions (and/or several cloves garlic)
10 leaves mint
1/2 lb. lard
1 lb. masa
Rub the turkey with salt and leave for several minutes.  Soak the dried chile. 
Grind the spices (including the soaked chiles and the achiote) in a little water.
Roast the turkey till browned but not fully cooked.  Cut in pieces.  Simmer with the pork in 5 quarts water.  Add the recado. 
Chop the tomatoes, onion and mint.  Fry in lard.  Add to the above.
Thicken with masa.  Cook till sauce thickens.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:46)
Turkey in Yellow Sauce
The recipe for the brilliant yellow k'ool is about the same, with half the achiote and without the tomatoes and mint.  Or use the very similar chicken stew from the mukbipollo recipe above.
Turkey in White Sauce
1 lb. pork ribs
1 turkey
1 branch oregano
10 peppercorns
3 garlic cloves (or more--up to one or two heads)
1 tsp. steak recado
1 tsp. red recado
Vinegar
Sliced onions
1 cup white corn meal
1 tsp. cumin seeds (optional)
1 tbsp. dried oregano
Boil the pork ribs in a large pot.  Add the turkey, cut up.  Add the spices, dissolving the recados in the vinegar. 
Separate a few cups of the stock and dissolve the flour very carefully in it.  Cook slowly till it thickens.  Serve the turkey with this sauce poured over it.
Variants: it is possible to add quartered tomatoes, bay leaves, etc. 
A much fancier version uses the classic Spanish combination of olives, capers, almonds, raisins, and a pinch of saffron.
A very interesting, and common, variant uses ground pork.  It is fried, and when the fat has rendered out, the spices are mixed into it.  (Some even chop tomatoes, onion, and chile peppers, and fry them in the mix, adding some of the almonds, capers, etc., but by this time we are dealing with a Spanish pork dish rather than a Maya turkey dish.)
If you can't find white corn meal, yellow will do.  Some use white flour, but it merely thickens the sauce and makes it gluey, rather than adding the delightful texture and flavor of corn meal.
Turkey in Escabeche I:  Simple Form
In most of the Spanish world, escabeche—from Arabic, and originally Persian, sikbaj, food cooked in vinegar—is something one does with vegetables and sea food.  In Yucatan, it is first and foremost a poultry dish.
Marinate a turkey or chicken in a recado of cloves, cumin seed, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, oregano, and garlic, mixed with a little vinegar (variants:  water, lime juice, bitter orange juice).
Boil with salt and a chile or bell pepper.
Serve with sliced onions (as in recipe following).
Turkey in Escabeche II:  Classic Escabeche Oriental
No one seems to have a conclusive account of what is "oriental" about this dish.  One theory is that the name comes from the fact that the dish is typical of Valladolid in the eastern part of Yucatan state.  However, a similar dish is called "oriental" in Spain, and it seems unlikely that influence from Valladolid (Yucatan) got that far, so I suspect "oriental" means "Moorish" or "Near Eastern" in this case.
1 turkey
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 stick cinnamon
20 oregano leaves
8 cloves
1 tbsp. peppercorns
1 bottle vinegar
1/2 cup lard
8 xkatik chiles
2 lb. red onions
6 habaneros (!! Or fewer—or, if you can't deal with even one habanero, one bell pepper)
4 roasted heads of garlic
The turkey can be cut up or whole.  For the pib, it should be whole.  Boil the turkey.
Grind up the spices and make a paste with the vinegar.  Rub into the turkey.  Put the turkey in large pot with the lard, garlic, and xkatik chiles (roasted).  Bury in pib, or roast in the oven.
Cut up the onions and habaneros.  Marinate in vinegar or lime juice, salt, cumin powder and toasted oregano leaves.  Add some of the turkey stock.  Serve as garnish.
Turkey Escabeche III
A variant, which I prefer, of the above.
3 lb. turkey parts, or 1 chicken
1/2 stick cinnamon
3 cloves
3 black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic
3 tsp. dried oregano
1 cube achiote paste
1 tbsp. lard
Juice of 6 limes
3 purple onions
Boil the turkey (or chicken) with a little dried oregano.
Grind the spices (including the rest of the oregano).  Add 1/2 of the achiote cube and mix with juice of 1 lime.  Score chicken and rub in this recado.
Slice the onions.  Let sit for a while, then pour boiling water over them.  Leave a few minutes, then drain and add juice of 5 limes and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Or make the full Marinated Onions recipe with them.
Roast the turkey in a hot oven for 15 minutes, till skin is crisping.  Or, if you have a pib, wrap it and cook it in the pib.
Add the rest of the achiote cube to the stock.  Add 3 xkatik chiles (seeded and roasted) and a head of roasted garlic.  Then add an onion, quartered.
To serve, chicken can be cut up and returned to stock.  But, if one is eating it all with tortillas, the method is to take the meat off the bones, return the bones to the stock to boil some more, and eat the meat and soup separately.  The onions are a side dish to add onto the meat. 
Serve with jalapenos in escabeche or habanero chile sauce.
Variant:  The above is a village form.  Urban forms are apt to include canned green Spanish olives, capers, tomatoes, bay leaves, etc. 
Fanciest of all is to use a turkey stuffed with but' (ground meat) and garnished with hard-boiled eggs.  Increase spices accordingly.
Turkey San Simon
This dish is Yucatan food history in a nutshell.  The turkey, tomatoes, chiles, and most of the spices are indigenous.  The recado using bitter orange is Caribbean, specifically Cuban (itself a mix, about which I know far too little, of African and Native American elements).  The bread thickening and the rest of the spicing is classic Moorish-Spanish.  The plantains are a solidly African touch.  The peas are a 19th-century Mexican garnish, derived probably from French usage.  The roasted green peppers are a standard modern central Mexican garnish.  And so on.... 
Recado:
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1 stick cinnamon
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp. oregano
Dish:
1 turkey (ca. 10 lb.)
Lard for frying (1-2 tbsp)
2 heads garlic
1-2 tbsp. oregano
1 branch mint
Juice of 5 bitter oranges, or 1 cup vinegar
1 oz. achiote
3 plantains, cut into long thin strips
10 slices French bread
1 10-oz. package of frozen peas
6 tomatoes, roasted and peeled
2 xkatik chiles
2 bell peppers, roasted and peeled
Salt to taste
20 green onions, roasted till beginning to brown
Grind all the recado ingredients together, dissolve in the bitter orange juice, and rub into the turkey.  Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
Then, cut up and brown the turkey in lard with a roasted head of garlic, the oregano, mint and salt.   Add water and cook, covered, till the turkey is almost done.
Separately, fry the plantains till soft; toast the bread; fry the tomatoes (chopped), and the chile and bell peppers (cut up).
Blend the tomatoes with the roasted head of garlic.
Now combine all ingredients except the plaintains and bread.  Cook 10 minutes.  Then take the turkey pieces out of the sauce; serve the pieces and the sauce separately.  Garnish with the peas, cooked and put over the turkey.
Serve with the plantains and toast on the side.  Roast the green onions till soft and serve them on the side also. 
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:47)
VEGETABLES
In general, the vegetable section of a Mexican cookbook is the shortest, if it exists at all.  Yucatan is no exception.  Vegetables are eaten as part of mixed stews, with meat, or they are garnishes.  Still, there are a few vegetable dishes.  Chaya, in particular, has been monographed by Jose Diaz Bolio (see Diaz Bolio 1974, Leon de Gutierrez 1974, and the general introduction to the present book).  Some of the recipes below are inspired by his.
Alboromia
Another Arab dish--using Yucatecan recado! According to legend, Burun was a queen of old Baghdad, the wife of Caliph Al-Ma'mun, and she liked mixed vegetable dishes.  Her name, variously distorted, applies to such, all over the Arab and Spanish worlds. She is especially associated with eggplant.  Alboromia in countless forms is universal in Andalucía and Extremadura, and presumably came to Mexico very early, but one suspects, also, later Lebanese influence in this dish.
Such vegetable recipes as exist in Yucatan frequently turn out to be Lebanese.  They are ideal for a vegetable course in a Yucatecan dinner, because they make an interesting contrast to the Maya and Spanish dishes.
1 eggplant
1 summer squash
1 lb. potatoes
1/2 tbsp. red recado
2 tomatoes
2 onions
2 garlic cloves, roasted
1 bunch parsley
1/2 bell pepper
2 tbsp. vinegar
Oil
Chop and fry the vegetables, starting with the onions, garlic and parsley.  Add in the flavorings. 
Variants: More spices and herbs can be added. 
In both Spain and Lebanon, the ancestors of this dish lack the recado.  In Lebanon, they usually have more herbs--mint in particular, and sometimes tarragon.  These do not go particularly well with the recado.  However, leaving out the recado and using mint, tarragon and oregano or marjoram makes a good variant, similar to ones found among the Lebanese communities.
Bean Chirmole
1 lb. beans
25 small dried chiles or 4 dried ancho chiles
1/2 onion
1 lb. masa
2 cloves garlic
6 tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
Cloves, to taste
Allspice, to taste
Lard (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the beans until almost done.
Toast and boil the chiles.  Wash.  Grind them with the spices.  Add to the beans.  Add the other ingredients.
Meat can be added to this, as can abal fruits (sour plumlike fruits; substitute sour plums).  Both improve it quite a bit.
Black Rice
Chop and fry an onion and some leaves of epazote, and chile if wanted.  Fry in a little oil.  Add ½ cup rice and stir-fry.  Then add liquid from cooking k'abax beans (enough to cover the rice to depth of 1 inch), and simmer, covered, over very low heat till done.  This is one of those simple but wonderful recipes.
Chaya basics
Chaya is much like spinach or swiss chard, and these leaves can always be substituted for it or combined with it.  (Incidentally, "spinach" in south Mexico usually turns out to be New Zealand spinach or some other heat-resistant green, not "real" spinach.)
Boil chaya leaves.  Chop and fry with onion.  Salt, bitter orange juice, garlic, etc. can be added.
Variants:  Scrambling eggs in with this mix is wonderful.  Or an omelette can be made thereof.  Adding chorizo, cut-up (previously soaked) salt meat, chopped ham, or comparable flavorings is even more wonderful.
Chaya is also good in any bean dish.  Combining beans and chaya enormously increases the nutritional value of the dish, and tastes better, too.  Chaya can also be put in any soup or stew, especially the ones with mixed vegetables such as puchero.
Chaya and Plantains
1 lb. chaya leaves
1 large plantain
1 bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin
Juice of 1 bitter orange
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil and cut up the chaya.  Peel and boil the plantain and chop it up. 
Chop up and fry the onion, garlic, pepper and tomatoes.  Then add the chaya and plantain and the other ingredients and cook till hot.
This is a wonderful dish, very good with tender young Swiss chard or even turnip greens.
Chaya Rice
Fry onion in a bit of oil.  Add the rice and fry.  Add chopped chaya leaves (raw small ones or blanched larger ones), chopped tomatoes, and any other flavorings desired.  Finally, add water to cover to depth of 1/2 "-3/4" and simmer.
Chaya Seafood Rice:  Add shrimp and/or other seafood to this, along with the chaya.
Chaya Salad
Boil the chaya, chop, and eat with sliced onions and vinagrette dressing.  Other vegetables can be added.
Chaya with Bacon
That old reprobate, Bishop Landa, when he was not torturing Maya to death in the Inquisition, was enjoying their food.  (It is to the credit of the Spanish that Landa's cruelty earned him formal censure, even in that dreadful age.)  Among other things, he noted that chaya was "good with much fat bacon." How did he cook it?  History does not record, but here are some worthy possibilities:
1.  Parboil chaya.  Meanwhile, fry chopped-up strips of bacon.  Drain off some of the fat.  Then fry the chaya in the remaining fat, with the bacon bits. 
Adding garlic and dried chiles to the frying bacon improves this version.
2.  Boil the chaya with bacon strips, garlic cloves, and dried red chiles. 
3.  Boil slab bacon.  Skim off as much of the fat as you can.  Add chaya, garlic and chiles. 
Being a Spaniard of his time, Landa probably went much more heavily into the bacon than we would do.
Chaya with Cheese
Boil chaya leaves in chicken stock.  Sprinkle crumbled sharp white Mexican cheese over them.
Chaya with Eggs
1 large bunch chaya
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 egg
Boil the chaya and cut up.  Cut up the onion and tomato.  Stir-fry the onion; add the tomato; then add the chaya; then add the egg.  Stir-fry all.
K'abax Beans ("Frijoles kabax")
K'abax implies ordinary food without special seasonings.  This is the everyday bean dish of Mexico.
Put beans in water and bring to boil.  Turn off and soak a few hours.  Then (in the same water) boil till tender, adding salt, an onion, a sprig of epazote and perhaps some achiote.  Eat with a relish of lime or bitter orange juice with chopped onion, cilantro, radishes and habanero chile.
Further manipulations include:
Blended beans:  Cook beans as above.  Blend, with their liquid.  Add lard (Maya lard: see above) to taste.  Or, fry in lard chopped onion, epazote and chile, and add into the beans.  Boil.  (This produces something very like the black bean soup of traditional United States cuisine.)
Refried beans:  Mash the k'abax beans but without the liquid.  Fry in lard.  Add in above ingredients as desired. 
Poor People's Paté
One of the Lebanese contributions to Yucatan's food.  It is a variant of the "poor man's caviare" of the Near East and East Europe.
4 small eggplants
2 tbsp. chopped onion
6 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped olives
2 bay leaves
3 tomatoes
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup yogurt (to serve separately)
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and slice the eggplants.  If you dislike the bitterness, leave in salted water for 20 minutes and then drain, but you lose some flavor doing this.
Fry the onion and garlic.  Then add the eggplants, olives, pepper and one bay leaf. 
Put the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute, to loosen the peels, and skin them.
Blend all the above (discard the bay leaf) with some olive oil.
Separately, make a cabbage salad:  Cook the cabbage.  Add vinegar, pepper and another bay leaf.
Serve, separately, the pate; cabbage salad; and the yogurt.  Eat on pita bread.
Variants:  infinite.  Try leaving out the olives.  The yogurt is optional.
Squash with Squash Flowers
Cook very small summer squash for a very few minutes.  Add squash flowers and then maize kernels cut from fresh sweet corn ears.  Boil for a very short time, until all ingredients are just tender.  Serve with lime wedges.
DESSERTS
            Fresh fruit and the universal Latin American flan are the commonest desserts in Yucatan, but they need no recipes here.  Yucatan produces excellent sorbets from local fruit; the best are guanabana, mamey, and chicosapote.  They are just fruit pulp, sugar, and water.  Use any sorbet recipe.
Candied ciricote
The ciricote is a small fruit that has to be cooked to be edible, rather like a small quince.  It grows on a large tree whose wood is among the most beautiful of all tropical woods, but now cannot be legally cut because of the rarity of these important food-producing trees.
4 lb. ciricote
4 limes
2 lb. sugar
Fig leaves
Cook the ciricotes in water with some wood ash (a handful or so, to tenderize them).  When cook, take out and grate.
Mix with lime juice.
Cook down in sugar syrup with some lime juice and the fig leaves.  (The fig leaves produce an enzyme that further tenderizes the fruit.)
Simmer for half an hour.  Take out the fig leaves and bottle.
This recipe will work for any firm, sour fruit.  It is similar to that for orejas de mico ("monkey ears"—preserved wild papaya), etc.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:56)
Chayote Pudding
1 chayote
2 eggs
2 oz. butter
2 oz. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Cook the chayotes, peel, and blend with the eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Butter a mold.
Cook in the oven till done.  (For a softer texture, some use a bain-marie.  Basically, this is a dish of water in which the custard dish is set high enough so that the water does not come in, but rather steams the custard.)  Doneness is indicated by a generally firm appearance.  Don't wait till a knife stuck into the center comes out clean--if you do, the pudding is overdone.
In Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, where apples cannot grow, nostalgic French cooks have found that chayotes make a very good substitute (if you use enough butter and spices).  I have had excellent French apple cake, apple tart, and so on, using chayotes.  There is even a restaurant totally devoted to the chayote.  Admittedly, this is far from Yucatan, but the tip is too good not to pass on.  Yucatan, like Reunion, is a tropical land where apples do not grow.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:56)
Cheese Pie (Pie de Queso)
Another very common dish, especially in Merida.  Ancestrally, it is some unsung American's variation on cheesecake, but is in fact much better than cheesecake.  The English word "pie" is invariably used.  Sometimes the spelling is localized to pay, which just happens to be the Maya word for "skunk."
1 can condensed milk
4 eggs
1/2 lb. cream cheese or Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Vanilla to taste (optional)
Piecrust (see below)
Blend the milk with the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the cheese.  Beat the egg whites to peaks and add in.  Fill into a regular piecrust and bake till firm.
Low-cholesterol version of the pie filling:  1 ½ cup regular milk, 6 egg whites, 1 package cottage cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla.  Blend all.  Not very authentic, but good enough.
One might also try Jack cheese in this.
Piecrusts:
Standard version:  1 cup flour, 1 stick butter, tiny bit of sugar, ice-cold water.  Cut the butter into the flour and sugar; rub in a while.  Mix in the water--just enough to moisten--and roll out.
A Yucatan version:  1 cup flour, 1/2 stick butter, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 egg, bit of cold water.  Proceed as above.
Another Yucatan version: 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 stick butter, 1 cup condensed milk.
Low-cholesterol version:  1 cup flour, 1/2 stick butter, 1 oz. sugar, cold water. 
The other classic Yucatan "pie" is "pie de nuez," but it is just ordinary American pecan pie, migrant from the American south.
Coconut Flan
1 lb. sugar
1 can coconut cream
8 eggs
1/2 quart milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
Vinegar
Simmer 13 oz. sugar with coconut cream (cans of it can be found at any Asian-food market) till slightly thickened.  Cool.  Separately, beat the eggs.  Beat in the milk and lemon. 
In a nonstick pan, melt 3 oz. sugar with a small amount of vinegar till the sugar begins to caramelize.  Pour into a buttered flan dish and pour int he ingredients.  Cook in a bain-marie till almost firm (about an hour).  Refrigerate.
Simple way (not to say cheating):  Throw milk, coconut cream, eggs, and sugar into a blender.  Blend for several seconds at high speed.  Line a pan with dark brown sugar (so you don't have to caramelize it).  Pour the blended liquid into this and bake in the oven at 325o till almost firm.  Take out and cool; it will finish firming up as it cools.  Leaving it in the oven till firm, as most cookbooks advise, overcooks it.
Cocoyoles
An impractical recipe for anyone outside of a Maya village, but ethnographically too interesting to miss.  Cocoyoles—t'uk in Maya—are the fruit of a palm.  They are too hard to eat without treatment.  They are boiled with water and lime—not the citrus, but the result of burning limestone—to soften them.  The outer part becomes soft and sweetish.  It is then boiled down with sugar (traditionally, honey) until candied.  It takes very slow simmering for 12 hours to do this perfectly. 
Corn and Squash Sweet
1 cup sweet corn kernels cut from very young ear, cooked very quickly
1 cup cooked meat from butternut or other sweet winter squash
Sugar to taste
Mix all while hot. 
Allspice, cinnamon, vanilla and other appropriate flavorings can be added.  Brown sugar gives more flavor. 
This very traditional Maya sweet would originally have been made with honey, or simply relied on the sweetness of the young corn.
Fruit Salad with Xtabentun
Cut up tropical fruits.  Melon, mango, papaya, mamey, banana, and citrus make a good combination.  Squeeze lime or orange juice over them and sprinkle liberally with Xtabentun (or any liqueur).
Guava Paste
A universal Latin American delicacy, developed from the quince paste of Spain.  Quinces don't grow in the tropics, but settlers quickly found that guavas are a perfect substitute.
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. guava juice (cook lemon guavas; strain.  Force some of flesh through sieve)
Cook slowly, stirring constantly, till the mixture forms a paste (soft ball stage).
Mamey Paste
Local version of the above.
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. mamey flesh
Mix sugar and mamey meat.  Simmer, stirring constantly, for several minutes.
This can also be made as in preceding recipe, but-unlike the guava--the mamey does not really need the cooking and straining. 
Mamey is quite sweet enough without sugar, so this recipe is for preserving the fruit.
Posole with Coconut
1 lb. nixtamal kernels (corn kernels boiled in lime)
Juice of 2 limes
Meat of 2 small coconuts
½ c sugar (or less, to taste)
Boil the kernels in water with juice of 2 limes added.  Grind these with the meat of the coconuts.  Boil this with sugar, till thoroughly hot and sugar thoroughly dissolved.
Nixtamal kernels are available canned at any Hispanic market.
Queso Napolitano
The "national dessert" of Yucatan--the one you actually see everyone eating.
2 cans of milk
10 eggs
Vanilla extract
3 oz. sugar
Blend all except the sugar.  Caramelize it as in previous recipe.  Turn out into a baking dish and pour in the liquid.  Cook in bain-marie for an hour (or bake till firm--this one you don't take out early, as with the preceding). 
It is possible to use only egg whites in this, and thus keep the cholesterol down to virtually nil.
Ruined Dessert
Atropellado means "totally messed up."   The name honors the appearance of the dish.  Fortunately, its taste is as good as its looks are messy.
1 lb. sweet potato
Meat of 1 coconut
¼ lb. brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
Cook the sweet potato.  Peel and mash.
Blend up the coconut.
Mix the sugar with some water and add the cinnamon.  Put on fire.  When it begins to boil, add the sweet potato and mix into the syrup.
Add in the coconut.
Chill.
I'm usually too lazy to grate coconut.  Canned coconut cream works fine!  Store-bought grated coconut is okay too.  Best is to use both.  Standard in Yucatan is to soak grated coconut in a can of condensed milk.
Squash with Honey
The traditional Maya sweet.
1 winter squash
1 lb. honey
Cut small holes in the squash.  Pour in the honey.  Bake in pib or oven for 2 hours. 
This dish is sickeningly sweet.  A tiny amount is quite enough.  More than that can produce severe hypoglycemia after a sugar "rush."
Spanish Cream
1 quart milk
6 eggs
1 lb. sugar
2 oz. cornstarch
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Blend all.  Cook in a nonstick saucepan over a low fire, stirring constantly.  
Low-cholesterol variant:  leave the eggs out.  (Yes, this is traditional.)
Yucatan Marzipan
1 lb. sikil
1 lb. sugar
10 oz. water
Flavorings as wanted
Food coloring
Dissolve the sugar in the water.  Simmer until a syrup forms.  Slowly work in the sikil, stirring constantly.  Add any flavorings.
Cool thoroughly.  Now, model into small animal, fruit and vegetable shapes and paint with the food coloring.
This recipe is of purely ethnographic interest, to show the ingenuity of the Yucatecan culture.  Almonds were far too rare in the old days to waste on marzipan-making.  Thus, this form was evolved.  It finds its chief use in providing pretty things for children--something the ordinary person can buy for practically nothing in the market, to pacify a young child.  This sikil marzipan is only marginally edible, like the flour-and-water marzipan of the rest of Mexico, and is more the equivalent of Play-Doh. 
(Conaculta Oceano 2000b:57)
DRINKS
The usual round of licuados (fruit smoothies) and alcoholic drinks occur, but are as elsewhere in Mexico.
Atole nuevo (green corn drink)
Kernels from an ear of fairly well matured sweet corn, soaked a day, then blended with a bit of sikil.  This is often sweetened with honey, or otherwise flavored.
Baalche'
The sacred ritual drink--still as important as in ancient Maya times.
Water
Honey, preferably of native stingless bee (much more flavorful than European bee honey)
Bark of baalche' tree (Lonchocarpus longistylus; sometimes closely related spp. are used)
Mix ingredients, bottle, and let stand until honey ferments.
Today, the drink is often made with regular honey cut with sugar, and the bark is reduced to a bare minimum.  The gods are said to be highly annoyed with this, and some would say the results are such events as Hurricane Gilbert.
If you are not given to brewing, but want to put on a Yucatecan dinner, be advised that Ethiopian t'ej is basically the same thing (flavored with Ethiopian hops instead of baalche' bark, but the difference is not earthshaking) and can be bought in markets carrying Near Eastern or African products.   
Chaya Drink
This is a very common, popular drink.  It is made quite sweet.
20 chaya leaves, boiled but not too soft
Juice of 3 limes
Sugar to taste
Water
Blend in a blender till a thick drink is produced.  Serve cold.
Chocolate
2 lb. cacao (chocolate) beans
2 oz. cinnamon sticks
1/2 lb. flour
1 package sweet biscuits
Toast the beans till they begin to color.  Heat the cinnamon stick.   Toast the flour till golden.  Grind up the cacao and cinnamon, and the biscuits.  Form tablets and store.  For drink, beat up in water, with sugar to taste.  Note that commercial Mexican chocolate tablets are mostly sugar, while these tablets are unsweetened.  Moreover, the taste will not be much like commercial chocolate; fermentation is needed to bring out the "chocolate" flavor known to the world outside Mesoamerica.
Coconut Pozole
1 kg. nixtamal kernels
Juice of 2 limes
Fresh meat of 4 small coconuts
1 cup sugar
Water
Cook nixtamal (whole kernels) for one hour with juice of limes.  Grate the meat of the coconuts.  Add this and the sugar to the mixtamal.  Chill.
Tan Chukwaj ("thick chocolate drink")
The traditional Maya ritual drink, still served at festivals, often with mukbipollos.
Tan Chulwaj is almost certainly what was in those Classic Maya chocolate cups with the owners' names on the rim, but it would have had chile then—if anything—instead of the modern cinnamon and sugar.
1 tablet Mexican chocolate
1 lb. toasted corn meal, or ground-up sweet corn kernels
1/2 tsp. allspice powder (or more)
Cinnamon stick
Sugar to taste (traditionally, none was used; today there is usually some sweetening)
Mix up the tablet with the corn and spices.  Heat.  Serve hot or cold.

Variants: Other flavorings can be added; anise is traditional and good.  The ancient Aztecs used chile powder, and one supposes the ancient Maya did too.


Foods of Campeche

The state of Campeche is still rather lightly populated.  Until recently, it was marine-oriented.  A few Maya in the deep interior were virtually the only people making their living solely from the land.  The wealth of the province was based in trade, seafaring and fishing.  This centered on the historic and vitally important ports of Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen.  Several fishing and resort towns dot on the coast between these two. 
The Spanish found it in 1517, when it centered on the Maya domain of Aj K'iin Pech (whence "Campeche").  Lacking gold, but having fierce warriors, it was not a great prize for the Spanish, and was slow to be settled.  It did, however, eventually produce the great Andres Quintana Roo, who was elder statesman and lawgiver to the Mexican independence movement that led to freedom from Spain in 1821.  Quintana Roo's name was later given to the adjacent state on the east.
            For centuries, from the Spanish conquest through the 19th century, Campeche was the main port for the Yucatan Peninsula, exporting honey, wax, dyewoods, cotton, sugar, and other country products in exchange for cloth, wine, oil, tools, religious items and the other needs of a sleepy rural society.  Notably important was logwood (Haematoxylon campechianum), the premier black dye of the pre-synthetic era, and still used for some specialized purposes.  Cutting logwood was a major occupation.  The trees regrew from their bases, forming impenetrable spiny thickets that now make refuges for jaguars and jaguarundis. 
Campeche's trade, small though it was by modern standards, seemed opulent at the time, and made Campeche and Carmen choice prizes for pirates and buccaneers.  These gentlemen of fortune are the height of Romance today; every supermarket has its counter of tawdry romance novels and DVD's featuring noble pirates and lovely ladies.  In reality, the pirates were nothing but gangsters, interested in little beyond violence, looting, drinking and rape.  They repeatedly sacked Campeche.  For years they occupied Carmen and used it for a base.  Today, the traditional woman's costume of Campeche features a white blouse exquisitely decorated with blackwork embroidery portraying ships and marine motifs.  The use of black instead of color arose because so many women were widowed or orphaned by the pirates. 
            Finally, in the 18th century, the pirates were more or less successfully kept out by the huge fortifications that still ring the city.  The walls went right out into the water, and a sea gate was constructed, big enough to accommodate sizable ships, but small enough to close with chains.  (The gate is now inland, due to recent landfill.)   Unfortunately, Campeche's fortunes were soon to be devastated again: Yucatan developed ports at Sisal and then Progreso.  These were nearer Mérida and the other principal Yucatan towns.  Campeche lost almost all its trade, and became a country fishing-town dreaming of its romantic past.
            Rice and oil brought new life to the state.  Rice, grown from early times in the far south on the Tabasco border, exploded into a major crop, though it later declined.  Oil has been a more stable income source.  Oilfields reach from Tabasco to the area of Carmen.  Today, mixed agriculture is expanding, and nature reserves attract ecotourists.  The Campeche coast is still an undiscovered paradise where a visitor can still find a private beach.  Its low-key, gentle beauty is less dramatic than the stunning white cliffs and deep blue water of the Cancun area; this have saved Campeche's coast--so far--from the rampant urbanization that has affected the Quintana Roo coast.
            History gave Campeche a cuisine based on Yucatan's, but differing in its emphasis on fish cookery.  The most distinctive seafood item of Campeche city is very much an acquired taste.  This is the cazón (dogfish or small shark).  The rather muddy waters of the Gulf of Mexico lack the Caribbean's treasure trove of colorful fish, but they abound in small sharks, especially hammerheads.  These are quickly cleaned, salted and roasted after they are caught, to prevent spoilage.  The roasted chunks of dogfish or shark sit in the market, shaded from the hot sun, awaiting purchasers.  They develop an odd flavor rather reminiscent of the canned mackerel of an earlier era in the United States.  They are most commonly made into a product known as "dogfish bread" (pan de cazón), which is considered the "national" dish of Campeche (see recipe below).  Most of the dogfish recipes are more to the taste of non-Campecheans if the cook substitutes cod, red snapper, or fresh good-quality shark.  Dogfish bread, however, remains an "acquired taste" even with heavy substitution.                                                                   
            The most elaborate of Mexico's seafood cocktails is called "Campechana" throughout Mexico.  However, seafood cocktails are monotonously the same everywhere, even in Campeche, and need no recipes here.
            Campeche is a paradise of tropical fruits, and these are preserved in sugar syrup or made into liqueur by steeping the fruit in sweetened rum.  These products are exquisite, and are well known far beyond the state's borders.  Often the bottles are put over the forming fruit on the trees, so that the fruit grows to fill the bottle.  Few things are more arresting to the traveler's eye than an orchard bearing a lavish crop of liqueur bottles.  Mexico is missing a turn by not exporting these products to the United States; they would command a ready market at almost any price.  
            Recados and sauces in Campeche are generally the same as in Yucatan, so refer to recipes in the previous chapter.
SEAFOOD
Black Rice Soup (a "dry soup")
1/2 lb. rice
1 oz. lard or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 quarts stock from cooking black beans (one could use the liquid from a few cans of black beans)
2 serrano chiles
4 epazote leaves
Salt to taste
     Soak the rice; drain; fry in the lard or oil.  Add the garlic, onion and chiles (chopped), the bean stock, the epazote and the salt.  Cook over a very low flame. 
     Alternative method (not traditional but good): fry the onion and garlic first, then add the rice.  This requires more lard or oil.
            This can be made with seafood—crab meat, shrimp, squid—in which case one can leave out the black bean liquid.
            Compare the similar recipe in the Yucatan chapter.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:24)
Bricklayer's Dogfish (cazón de albañil)
1 roast dogfish
3 sprigs epazote
Salt
4 tomatoes
1 onion
2 xcatic chiles                          
Oil for frying
Boil the dogfish with the epazote.  Bone and shred.  Fry up the shreds with the vegetables (chopped).  Add the stock in which the dogfish was cooked--enough to make a sauce rather than a soup.
     I admit I included this dish only because the name is irresistible.  Still, it's great if you use some more hopeful fish.  Actually, it is a version of a common Caribbean dish using salt cod (presoaked and washed to remove the salt).             
Campeche Caviare
Roes from one esmedregal
1 tbsp. oregano
8 garlic cloves, mashed
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
Salt to taste
2 onions
1 head of garlic
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
     Boil the roes with some oregano, garlic and salt.  Chill.  Peel the membrane off the roes.  Roast the onion, garlic head, and tomatoes, blend them, and fry them in the olive oil.  Season.  Add the roes and boil 15-20 minutes.
     Fish roes are widely used in mixed seafood dishes in eastern Mexico.
Fried Flaked Dogfish
If you are not into the cult of cazón, try this with any firm white-fleshed fish, such as cod.  It is then really excellent.
2 lb. fresh dogfish, in pieces
1 tbsp. salt
1/2 green onion
Epazote
Lime
1 lb. tomatoes
1 chile habanero
1/2 regular onion
oil
Cook the dogfish in water to cover, with the salt, green onion and epazote.
Bone and skin the dogfish.  Rinse and break up into small pieces.  Season with the lime, and with more salt and epazote. 
Roast the tomatoes, chile and onion.  Blend up.  Fry this salsa in oil.
Add the dogfish to the salsa and fry till this sauce thickens.             
Dogfish Bread (pan de cazón)
This universal Campeche delicacy is even more an acquired taste than its main ingredient.  I present a recipe purely for ethnographic interest.
2 lb. roasted dogfish
1 tbsp. salt
10 sprigs epazote
1 lb. lard
1/2 onion
2 lb. tomatoes
Refried black beans (boil the beans; mash; fry in lard)
Tortillas
Habanero salsa (chopped habaneros in bitter orange or lime juice)
Wash and cut up the dogfish.  Boil with salt for thirty minutes.  Add some epazote.  Remove skin and bones and fry.  
Stir-fry the onion and the rest of the epazote, chopped, in lard.  Add the tomatoes, cut up, and the pieces of dogfish.
Cover and cook for fifteen minutes.  Retire from the flame.  Break up the fish into flakes and mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Heat the tortillas and the beans.  Moisten the tortillas in the dogfish sauce.  Cover with a layer of beans.  Cover this with the dogfish mix.  Then add another layer (tortilla, beans, sauce).  Keep building, by layers, as much as desired.  (About six layers is typical.)  Serve with the salsa.
            Variants abound, but the basic model above is pretty standard.
     This is more or less the national dish of Campeche.  If it is made (as it usually is) with the dogfish that has been sitting in the marketplace for a while, outsiders may find it reminiscent of school-cafeteria tuna casserole.        
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:33)
Esmedregal in Orange Juice
Esmedregal is a term for various large fish with firm white flesh.  Anything from albacore to red snapper works well for this one.
2 lb. esmedregal fillets, or other firm, juicy, white-fleshed fish
1 quart water with lime juice
Parsley, 1 bunch
Garlic, 2-3 cloves
Oregano, about 1 tsp dried
Cumin seeds
Black pepper
Salt
1 cup bitter orange juice or vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1/2 white onion
1 sweet chile
1 lb. tomatoes, sliced
1 hot chile
Juice of two sweet oranges
Bread crumbs (optional)
Cut the fish in small pieces and wash in the water.
Blend the herbs and spices into a paste with the bitter orange juice or vinegar.  Marinate the fish in half of this, for an hour or so.
Fry lightly.
Separately fry the vegetables, cut up.  Add the fish.  Cook, adding the rest of the herb paste, and finally the sweet orange juice.  Add bread crumbs to thicken, if needed.  (I prefer it without the bread crumbs.)
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:36)
Fish casserole
2 lb. white, firm-fleshed fish
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup oil
1 onion, in thin slices
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 lb. bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. tomato, blended
2 peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp. fresh oregano (dried oregano can be substituted, in which case use less, about 1 tsp.)
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 tsp. nutmeg     
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the fish, cut in medium-sized pieces, and marinate in the lime juice for 15 minutes.  Heat the oil.  Fry in it the onion and garlic.  Then add the bell pepper, blended tomato, pepper, cumin seeds, oregano, nutmeg, parsley and salt.  When this has cooked a short time, add the fish and cook till done.
Fish Makum
A classic favorite, also very popular in Yucatan.
Cherry Hamman explains:  "The words mak, ‘to close' and kum ‘cooking pot,' explain the title of this ancient hearthrite."  (Hamman 1998:251; her recipe is for a meat makum, also an excellent dish).
6 garlic cloves
2 roasted onions
1/2 tbsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. achiote paste
5 cloves
8 black peppercorns
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup oil 
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste
Oil for oiling the dish
1 banana leaf
2 lb. fish fillets (snapper, pompano or the like)                               
3 tomatoes, sliced
4 whole güero chiles (medium-sized, hot, yellow chiles)          
1 red bell pepper or 1-2 fresh red chiles, roasted, peeled and sliced
Blend the garlic, one of the onions, and the cumin seeds, oregano, achiotes, cloves, and peppercorns.  Mix with the vinegar, some oil, and the salt and lime juice.  Alternatively, you can just use a cube of red recado dissolved in lime or bitter orange juice.
Oil a casserole dish and line with the banana leaf.  Put on some of the sauce (above), then the fish, then the rest of the sauce, well rubbed onto all the fish.
Decorate with the tomatoes and the other onion, sliced; the whole chiles; and the pimentos.  Bend the banana leaf around to cover all.  Bake, or cook over slow fire, till done.
Parsley or cilantro for garnish is allowed.
Serve with white rice and black beans.
Variant: Nutmeg (pinch) and bay leaves are sometimes added.  More tomatoes can be used.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:34)
Pampano in Escabeche
Pampano is a medium-sized, roundish fish with firm white flesh and a very delicate flavor.  Red snapper would work (but the real thing is better). I  can even imagine doing this dish with trout.
1 grilled or fried pampano
1 large onion
1 carrot
1 jalapeno pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Few black peppercorns
1/2 cup vinegar
Salt and other spices to taste
Oil
     Chop and fry the onion.  Add the other vegetables and spices.  Cook briefly (a few minutes).  Pour this sauce over the pampano.
Pampano in Green Sauce
The medieval Arab-Andalusian green sauce appears yet again.  This is a particularly good form of it.
2 lb. pampano fillets
Lime
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 green chile (xkatik preferable)
Black pepper
Oregano to taste (about 1 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt
Vinegar to taste (a small amount)
6 cloves garlic
Lard for frying
1 small onion
2 tomatoes
2 mild yellow chiles
Wash the fish and rub with lime. 
Blend the parsley, cilantro, green chile, oregano, pepper, cumin seeds, salt, vinegar and garlic.
Marinate the fish in this sauce.
Fry all in lard (or oil).  One way to do this is to put the fish in, then cover with the sauce.  Another way is to fry the sauce first, then put the fish in (this works only with quite thin fish, or fillets).
Then add the onion and tomatoes, chopped, and the chiles, chopped or whole.  When all has fried somewhat, add water and cook till sauce is thick.
Variants:  One can dispense with either the parsley or the cilantro, or even the green chile, and use instead hojasanta leaves, or tomatillos (green husk-tomatoes).
Pampano Pohchuc
1 pampano, ca. 1 lb.
1 tbsp. achiote paste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
24 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. olive oil
Stuffing:
Oil, for frying
1 lb. cooked small shrimp
1 lb. chopped octopus
3 garlic cloves
2 chopped tomatoes
2 laurel leaves
Salt and pepper
Banana leaves
Wash the fish and marniate for two hours in a marinade of the achiote, pepper, oregano, cumin seeds, garlic and olive oil (plus enough water to make a thin paste). 
For the stuffing, stir-fry the onion, chopped.  Add the shrimp and octopus.  Then add the rest and boil briefly. 
Stuff the fish with this.  Wrap all in banana leaves, put in a casserole dish and bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:33
Panuchos, Campeche style
2 lb. masa
4 oz. flour
Salt to taste
1 lb. cooked black beans
1 lb. fried dogfish (see above in introduction to section)
1 onion, quartered
2 bitter oranges
Habanero chile, to taste
     Mix the masa, flour and salt with enough water to make a dough.  Make small tortillas (two for each panucho).  For a panucho, cover one tortilla with beans, one with shark meat, put them together (beans and fish inside), and seal around the edges.  Fry (either deep fat or in a bit of oil in skillet). 
     Chop the onion and habanero and mix into the juice of the bitter oranges.  Eat as topping for the panuchos.                        
Red Snapper in Green Sauce
This is a much simpler version of the recipe for pampano in green sauce, above.
1 red snapper
Olive oil for frying
1/2 onion
1 bunch parsley
1 cup vinegar
Onion, cut in sections
Parsley sprigs
Clean the fish and slash sides.  Fry in oil.  Put in baking dish; brush with more oil.
Blend the onion and parsley, fry in oil and add in the vinegar.
Pur this sauce over the fish, decorate with the onion slices and parsley sprigs, and bake till done.
Obviously, one can use the green sauce recipe above (Pampano in Green Sauce), which really is better.  But, if you are in a hurry, this is awfully good.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:37)
Salt Cod
Not content with their wealth of local seafood, the Campechanos have adopted this Caribbean staple.
1/2 lb. salt cod, cut in pieces, soaked and washed thoroughly
2 oz. oil
2 oz. lard
1/2 lb. tomatoes, roasted, peeled, chopped
1 onion, ditto
5 or more sprigs of parsley, cut up
2 garlic cloves, roasted
20 black peppercorns
2 ancho chiles, boiled with salt
1/2 cup water
1 lb. potatoes, boiled, cut up
2 roasted red peppers, peeled and cut up
Fry the cod in the oil and lard.  Add the tomatoes, onion and parsley.  Grind the garlic and spices and add.  Then add the water and boil.  Finally, when almost done, add the potatoes.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:37
Seafood Rice
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 tomato
1 lb. rice
2 bay leaves
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
Mixed seafood: shrimps, clams or other shellfish, cut-up octopus, and bits of fish
Fish stock
2 oz. peas
Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
     Chop the onion and garlic.  Fry in a bit of oil.  Add the tomato, chopped.  Add the rice and herbs.  Fry till rice begins to stick.  Add the seafood.  Then add enough fish stock to cover all to a depth of 1/2 to 3/4".  Add peas and cook.
     Chopped peppers can be added too.  In fact, almost anything can be added.  This dish naturally calls for improvisation and substitution.  You can use any odd bits of seafood available.  Important is to achieve a contrast of textures, such as that produced by fish, clams, and octopus bits. 
Seafood Salad
Shrimp, conch, octopus, bits of fish, shredded carrot, chopped onion, cilantro, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, sliced avocado, salt, and pepper, in lime juice.
Basically a glorified fish cocktail.  As with the foregoing, the critical thing is to achieve a contrast of textures as well as tastes.
Snook in Mole Sauce
The snook is a large silver fish of warm Caribbean and Atlantic waters.  It has white flesh and a unique, rich taste that can become addictive.  A snook cooked this way is truly unique and unsurpassed, but, lacking a snook, you can use any white-fleshed fish.  Relatively firm, oily ones work best.
1 snook, ca. 3 lb.
Salt
4 tbsp. lard
8 ancho chiles (dried)
2 cups water
1/2 lb. cooked potatoes, cut up
Sprig of epazote
Clean the fish.  Rub with lard.  Roast on a grill.
Soak the chiles to rehydrate them.  Then blend and fry in lard.  Add salt to taste.
Add in the water, the fish (cut in pieces), and the potatoes and epazote.  Cook till flavors blend.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:37)
    
MEAT
Campeche Sausage
1 lb. pork loin
1 lb. pork leg (fresh ham)
1/2 lb. fresh bacon, chopped
1 onion
8 garlic cloves
25 black peppercorns
20 cumin seeds (or more)
3 cloves
1 tbsp. achiote paste
Salt
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. bitter orange juice
Sausage skins
Grind the meat fine.  Add the other ingredients (grinding the spices).  Leave eight hours in the refrigerator, then stuff the mix into the sausage skins.
One can, of course, simply fry the spiced ground meat instead of making sausages with it.  This is a lot easier (I have never been able to get energetic enough to make sausages at home) and is extremely good.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:42)
Pork Loin with Black-eyed Peas
A rather striking recipe with a distinctly Cuban flavor.  I suspect Campeche's long, close trade connections with Cuba are behind this dish somewhere.
2 garlic cloves
10 black peppercorns
1 onion
1 tbsp. achiote seeds
1/2 lb. tomato, chopped
10 sprigs epazote
1 1/2 lb. pork loin, cut in small pieces
1 quart water
Salt to taste
3/4 lb. black-eyed peas
2 lb. masa
1 habanero chile, green (unripe)
1/3 lb. lard, melted
1 banana leaf
     Grind the spices.  Miix with the tomato, epazote and meat.  Make a soup with the water and salt, and cook till meat is done.  Cook the peas separately. 
     Mix the chile (cut up) and the lard into the masa.  Add the meat stew and the beans.  Cook till it forms a solid paste.  Grease a baking dish and line with banana leaf.  Add in the paste and bake at 350o till golden.
Tamales, Campeche feast style
4 lb. masa
4 quarts water
Salt to taste
3/4 lb. lard
3 sprigs of epazote
10 banana leaves
Filling:
1 lb. jowl of pork (or other relatively firm, meaty cut)
1 1/2 lb. pork loin
1 chicken
Salt to taste
8 cloves garlic, roasted
10 black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. achiote seeds
1 quart broth
1 1/2 lb. tomato, chopped
6 leaves or sprigs of epazote, chopped
                 
     Mix the masa with water.  Strain through cheesecloth or sieve.  Let stand till masa settles; pour off water.  Add salt, lard and epazote (chopped).  Simmer, stirring constantly, till thick.  Turn off flame and let stand 15 minutes.
     Cook the meats in the stock, cut into small pieces, and add salt and garlic.  Grind the peppercorns, cumin seeds and achiote seeds.  Add to the stock.  Mix in the chopped meat and boil again till reduced.  Add the tomato and epazote.  Retire from the flame when cooked fairly dry.
     Toast lightly the banana leaves and cut in quarters.  Cover with a layer of masa dough.  Put on a chunk of stuffing and roll up.  Steam for half an hour.
VEGETABLES



Campeche Salad
1/2 lb. chickpeas, cooked
1/2 lb. green beans
3 carrots
2 turnips
3 potatoes
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
     Boil the carrots and turnips.  Boil the potatoes separately.  Do not overcook--they should be firm.  Cool.  Chop and mix with the tomato and seasonings.
     A very standard restaurant dish, and thus subject to infinite variation.  It is possible to add cooked rice to this.  It is also possible to add almost anything else interesting; corn kernels are particularly welcome.  The creative cook will want to experiment with herbs, chiles, and even flaked fish (this salad often accompanies fish, and there seems no reason not to add some fish in).
Vegetables in Marinade
1 cauliflower
1/2 lb. green beans
4 summer squash
4 carrots
1 red onion
4 small potatoes
Jalapeno chile (optional)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Vinegar
Herbs
Oregano, salt, and pepper to taste
     Cut up the vegetables.  Blanch them by putting in boiling water, turning it off and leaving for 15 minutes (i.e., till the vegetables soften a bit but do not actually cook).  Wash them and put in vinegar to cover.  Add in the other ingredients and marinate at least 12 hours. 
     The herbs would typically be powdered thyme, marjoram and perhaps others.  One can easily use fresh herbs instead.  Be creative.  The irrepressible will no doubt want to add a habanero.
     Cooked sea foods, especially shellfish and octopus, can be added.
DESSERTS



Preserved ciricotes
The ciricote is the small fruit of a tree (Cordia sebestina) also noted for its incredibly beautiful wood.  The value of the wood leads to cutting many a ciricote tree, and the fruit is correspondingly rare.  Tough and even woody, like small quinces, ciricotes have to be cooked.
4 lb. ciricotes
Juice of 4 limes
1 lb. sugar
2 quarts water
3 fig leaves
Cook the ciricotes.  If tough, use some baking soda--or, to be really traditional, ashes--to tenderize and sweeten.
When the ciricotes are cool, peel and put in water and lime juice.  Wash, soak and drain.
Make a syrup with the sugar, water and a bit more lime juice. Add the ciricotes and fig leaves, and boil half an hour.  Bottle.
     Campeche is famous for its fruit preserves and liqueurs.  This recipe will have to stand for all of them.  The recipe is standard, except for the fig leaves, which are used only when their tenderizing and thickening action is desirable, as with the tough ciricote.
     Ciricote wood is yellow and brown, with a richly figured grain.  There is a great future for this tree.  If the better varieties were propagated, they could produce fruit until the tree was mature; the tree could then be harvested for its wood.                            

(Conaculta Oceano 2001a:50)


Chiapas cuisine and cultural notes

Unlike the other Maya states of Mexico, Chiapas is geographically diverse.  Ranging from sea level to 13,000 feet, it takes in tropical rainforests, burning deserts, cool mountain woodlands and frigid cloud-wrapped summits.  Ethnically, its indigenous inhabitants include speakers of several different Maya languages, as well as totally unrelated languages such as Zoque and Chiapanec.  The largest linguistic groups are the highland Maya Tzeltal and Tzotzil.  Both live in scattered, dispersed communities that have their own dialects and costumes.  Other, smaller Maya groups include the Tojolabal, Mocho, and others in the highlands, and various lowland groups including some related to the Yucatec.  Refugees from wars in Guatemala have introduced other Maya languages.  Nothing could be more different from the Yucatan Peninsula, with its uniform limestone terrain and uniform Yucatec or Spanish linguistic scene.                                          
            Basically, the state consists of a high mountainous plateau between Atlantic and Pacific lowlands.  The plateau is bisected by the deep, hot, and dry gorge of the Grijalva River.  Most of the population is concentrated in the middle altitudes--roughly from 2000 to 8000 feet.  The old centers of population and civilization were high, around 7000 feet, but economic and demographic growth had led to migration to the lowlands.  The capital was once at San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the highlands, but is now at Tuxtla Gutiérrez, much lower down and more accessible by roads.
            Chiapas was conquered in the 1520s.  In the 1530s, the great protector of indigenous peoples, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, became bishop in the (then) capital, San Cristóbal, which later was named San Cristóbal de Las Casas in his honor.  Las Casas was one of the most fearless and heroic figures in Spanish history, continually risking his life to tell the true story of the destruction of Native Americans and to advocate for them in Spain and Rome.  Unfortunately, he had less effect on attitudes in Chiapas than one might have wished. 
            Chiapas was part of Guatemala until the mid-19th century, when Mexico took it over during a period of dubious relations between the two countries.  Thus, Chiapas took part in Guatemala's brutal and bloody past, characterized by extreme ethnic and class tensions.  The problems have never quite gone away.  Large landowners exploited Maya labor to produce cheap coffee, cattle, and other commodities.  Chiapas saw several local rebellions, often Mayan attempts to preserve local autonomy (Bartolome 1988; Bricker 1981; Rus et al. 2003.  The Mexican Revolution of 1910-21 was brutal and bitter.  Then in the 1990s came the Zapatista movement, started by a millionaire's son from northeast Mexico but followed enthusiastically by displaced and embittered Maya.  Problems still exist (see Rus et al. 2003).  Parts of Chiapas remain unsafe to visit today.  The wonderful rainforest—Mexico's finest and most diverse—is suffering.  The struggle between Zapatistas and the Mexican state has left much of the forest unprotected and exposed to wanton destruction. 
Until recently, Chiapas was relatively remote and unspoiled--the world of jaguars, wild turkeys and huge snakes immortalized by the great Chiapan zoologist Miguel Álvarez del Toro in his book Así Era Chiapas ("This Was Chiapas," 1985).  The remoteness and isolation was limited, because Chiapas is on the main route from central Mexico to Central America, and has always been a crossroads and a trade center.  Much of it was (and is) far enough off the beaten path that it became a haven for anthropologists seeking the romantic and isolated Native—though, to the anthropologists' surprise, the romantic Natives included many migrant workers, politicians, mechanics, and long-distance traders.  Far from being isolated, the highland Maya live on or near the Pan-American Highway, which started as a pre-Columbian road used by conquering Aztecs.  Many Maya became porters, then muleteers under the Spanish colonists, and now truck-drivers dominating much of the south Mexican carrying trade. 
Today, though Chiapas is still Mexico's poorest state except for Oaxaca, most of the forest is cleared for farming, and paved roads reach most areas.  The economy is improving, due not only to oil discoveries in the lowlands but also to tourism, intensive agriculture, and trade.  However, modernization has also led to an initial period of thoughtless destruction of resources.  In addition to conflict, rapid population growth has been hard on the forest.  The usual problems of conversion of forest to cattle pasture have occurred.  Fires escaping from grassland have devastated otherwise safe mountain areas. 
Fortunately, many Chiapans have realized this was suicidal, especially after the eloquent leadership of the aforementioned Miguel Álvarez del Toro.  Chiapas is now active in conservation.  Much damage had been done, and progress is slow, but at least the public is willing to work for change.        
            The Aztecs named the area "Chiapa"—"chia field"—from the abundance of chia, a sage (Salvia hispanica) that produces edible seeds, excellent food rich in protein and oil.  Not only chia (now rare) but almost any imaginable crop grows somewhere in the state, thanks to the diversity of landscapes and the incredible resourcefulness of the local farmers.  The markets are a riot of color--not only of fruits and vegetables, but also of flowers, for Chiapas is a commercial growing area, producing flowers for all south Mexico.  Nor are cultivated crops the only things sold; one can find as many as twenty kinds of wild mushrooms, some imperfectly known to science.
Naturally, this leads to a high standard of cooking.  Chiapas is one of those places, like France in the old days, where you can stop at humble roadside stands or urban working-class cafes and expect good or even great eating.  Not all restaurants are good, but the average is high, and some of my finest meals in Mexico have come from impulsive turnoffs into tiny, isolated stops among Chiapas' highland pines or lowland palms.
Chiapas' cuisine, outside of actual indigenous communities, is much less Indian than that of the rest of south Mexico.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the indigenous people were and are relatively poor.  They created a wealth of maize dishes--drinks, tamales, tacos--but little haute cuisine.  Those interested in Highland Maya food can find incredibly detailed accounts in The Flowering of Man by Dennis Breedlove and Robert Laughlin (1993; see vol. II, pp. 549-556) and La alimentación Mocho:  Acto y palabra by Perla Petrich (1985); the latter is the best account (so far) of food production and consumption in an indigenous community in south Mexico.  These works provide instructions for making a number of tamales and other dishes, but most dishes involve only masa and beans, and are not necessarily the most exciting fare.  In all the Maya groups, maize remains not only the staple food but the ritual and religious center of activity.  The Mocho think it is so pure that it is entirely digested, body wastes being from other foods (Petrich 1985:131).  Long and complex ceremonies exist for every stage in maize production and use, and maize is always central in offerings (see e.g. Vogt 1969, 1993).  As in Yucatan, sacrifices involve both solid and liquid maize preparations of various kinds.  There are supernatural lords of maize, and maize came from the spirit world, via caves—magical universes for the Maya—or other magical sources. 
Second, Chiapas' cool highlands and crossroads location attracted Spaniards and other Europeans from the earliest days.  Chiapas is more Spanish, culinarily, than any other south Mexican state.  The Spanish influenced Maya cooking profoundly here, by introducing wheat, pigs, sheep, and other European foods. 
The Tzotzil Maya of Chamula became famous sheep-raisers and wool producers.  They kept sheep in the wet highlands where the Spanish could not keep the sheep alive; this was because the Chamula, being careful and perceptive in their relations with nature, could deal with diseases and parasites that required extreme care and skill to avoid.  For example, they quickly realized that liver flukes could be avoided if the sheep were kept away from waterside vegetation.  The flukes spread via the water (and snails in it), but the Chamula thought the connection came through fluke-shaped leaves of waterside plants.  The Chamula deduced that the leaves turned into worms if the sheep ate them—a nice example of coming up with a plausible but dubious explanation for an empirical and correct observation (Perezgrovas 1990).
The cool highlands were attractive not only for comfort, but--even more important to a Spaniard--for pork curing.  The conquistadors could endure incredible hardships without flinching, but being deprived of Spain's serrano hams and incomparable sausages was too much to bear.  Such products ripen only in cool mountain climates, so Chiapas soon became a leader in charcuterie.  As one enters San Cristóbal de las Casas (still the center of the highlands), almost the first shops one sees are the venerable and magnificent ham and sausage companies.  I provide here a few recipes for general interest, but would-be sausage-makers should note that they need Chiapas' home-raised pigs, special smoking woods, and unique climate.  (These recipes, and some of the Chiapan Indian ones that require ingredients I do not recognize, have—unlike the other recipes in this book—not been kitchen-tested; I merely translate the sources, especially the Banrural cookbook, Conaculta Oceano 2000a.). 
Beef is also cured.  The tasajo is excellent.  Cecina is made by marinating sliced pork in strongly salted and peppered bitter orange or lime juice and sun-drying it.  It is simply grilled.
One typical Chiapas lunch is a plate of cold cuts.  It might include peppery country pates, ham cured in herbs and brown sugar, back bacon, local cheddar-like cheese, butifarra sausage, chorizo, stuffed and pressed turkey, local forms of mortadella and salami, cold pork stuffed with almonds and olives, cured pork leg, fresh (uncured) sausage, and vegetable garnishes.  The visitor unused to heavy-duty carnivory is not going to want more meat for a while.  Vegetarian tourists in Chiapas have a hard time; they must seek out special tourist-oriented restaurants or markets in San Cristóbal or Tuxtla.
The lowlands produce cacao for chocolate.  Indeed, the Soconusco—the Pacific coastal lowland belt—was so famous in pre-Columbian times that the Aztec empire launched a major conquest there to get control of the chocolate.  (Remember that cacao beans were the official currency at that time.)  Cacao production has declined in that area, but is being revived.  A precious few trees of the ancient, superior cacao varieties have recently been rediscovered.   Locals are cooperating with anthropologists such as Jan Gasco and Barbara Voorhees (to whom thanks for this information) to revive quality cocoa farming.
Among more recently developed local specialties, cheese is outstanding.  The Ocosingo Valley, in the mid-levels of the hills, produces some of the richest and finest cheeses in North America.  They range from cheddar-like to cottage style, but the best are the sharp, tangy, salty Mexican-style cheeses.  These have medium fat content and are round and beautifully white.  Ocosingo is a paradise for cheese-eaters (as well as for lovers of rural scenery), but the recipes themselves are ordinary Mexican ones--the attraction lies in the cheese itself. 
            I have tried to find Native American recipes, or at least ones that seem relatively so.  Highland Maya cuisine grades into standard Chiapaneco cooking. The Banrural-Conaculta cookbook for Chiapas has rendered the world a signal service in documenting Zoque cuisine, otherwise unknown to the world. Zoque is a language spoken by a small, little-known group in northern Chiapas.  Ninguijuti (Meat, below) and Pusxinu (or puxinu; Vegetables, below), along with ordinary popcorn balls (Pusxinu; Conaculta Oceano 2000a:56) represent all I can find of Zoque cuisine, except that another delicacy noted by the Banrural-Conaculta cookbook explains (p. 66) that ants known as nucú are a delicacy.  Insects are widely eaten and relished in Chiapas, as in neighboring Oaxaca.  In the Chiapas highlands, I have watched a Chamula Maya mother and daughter eat wasp larvae straight from the paper nest, according to the Australian recipe for witchetty grub:  "Don't cook.  Don't kill.  Just eat."
            Chiapas' varied geography and highly differentiated local regions guarantee plenty of local dishes.  Each town seems to have its own.  San Cristobal is especially rich, but even such a minor regional center as Tonala has some, such as huevos turulos.  "Turulo" is the local term for someone or something from Tonala.  The dish is not the most sophisticated in the world—it is simply eggs scrambled with black beans and topped with sliced raw onion and powdered white cheese—but it is very good, and it shows the tendency of even the smallest regions to have their own foods.
The varying altitudes of Chiapas make it difficult to specify how long soups are to be boiled.  At the high elevations, water boils at a low temperature, with the delightful result that soups can be simmered a long time without overcooking the vegetables.  This produces a truly superior soup.  Outside the mountains, the only way to approximate this is by cutting the vegetables up fairly fine, adding them very late in the cooking process, and cooking for a very short time.  Delicate ones like sweet corn kernels should be brought to the boil--no more.
Salsas in Chiapas are (once again) similar to the more generic ones of Yucatan.  Chopped fresh chiles, onions, and tomatoes in lime juice, often with chopped cilantro, is standard.  Blended red tomato sauce with ground toasted dried red chiles, garlic, salt and sometimes other ingredients is also typical.  Green salsa, made of blended tomatillos (small husk-tomatoes, Physalis spp.) and green chile with onion or garlic and salt, is also common.  Recipes for these salsas can be found in any Mexican cookbook.
An important plant in Chiapas is chipilín (Crotalaria longirostrata), an alfalfa-like plant grown for its edible, mild-flavored leaves.  Alfalfa sprouts make a reasonable (though not terribly close) substitute.  One could even use pea tendrils (available at Asian markets).  These are similar in texture and flavor, though not looking much like chipilín, and are often used in Chiapas.
Arrayán leaves are called for in several recipes; the arrayan is a bush endemic to the area.  The name means "myrtle" in Spanish, but the Chiapas arrayan is not much like a Spanish myrtle.  Bay leaves make a good substitute.  Another useful flavoring herb is avocado leaf.  I have seen a kettle of chile and beef simmering with a whole branch of avocado leaves thrust in. Mexican mountain avocado leaves have a wonderful spicy taste.  Closely related to bay leaves, they have a similar flavor and culinary use, but must be used fresh rather than dried--hence their absence from markets.  In the United States, most California avocados have spicy-flavored leaves, but Florida and Gulf Coast avocadoes are derived from Caribbean ancestry with virtually tasteless leaves.  If you don't live near a Californian or Mexican avocado orchard, use bay leaves.  Conversely, if you do have access to such avocado leaves, try them in the following recipes.
TAMALES AND RELATIVES
Chiapas Chalupas
25 toasted or fried tortillas
1 lb. black beans, cooked
1 lb. carrots
1 lb. beets
1/2 lb. hard cheese, grated
1 lb. pork loin
6 cloves
3 large lettuces
Lard or oil
Salt to taste
Grind and fry the beans. Cook the carrots and beets; peel and cut up finely.  Chop the lettuce finely.  Cook the pork with the cloves and cut into narrow strips. 
Cover the tortillas with beans, then with the other ingredients, sprinkling with cheese at the end.
It is possible to fold the tortillas over, thus producing tacos.  Cooked potatoes or plantain can be added.
One can also substitute any other meat for pork, and can be creative about flavoring it.  Turkey cooked in chile sauce is one of the common alternatives.  Vegetarians can be assured that they will not be violating tradition if they leave out the meat and use more cheese, or use mushrooms.  In short, this is true street food--you use what's available and good.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:20)
Chipilín Tamales
4 lb. masa
1 lb. lard
1 large bunch chipilin
1 lb. tomatoes
2 fresh red chiles
1 fresh white cheese
Leaves
Blend the vegetables and the cheese. 
Prepare the masa in the usual way, but incorporating the leaflets of the chipilin (discard the stems).
Make tamales in the usual way.
If your neighborhood market is out of chipilín, the nearest equivalent is alfalfa sprouts.  Any mild-flavored greens, cut up, will do.
A variant stuffing involves dried shrimps. 
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:18
Chipilín with Sandwiches of Masa and Cheese
1 lb. masa
1 large bunch chipilín
4 oz. dry Mexican white cheese or mild feta cheese
4 oz. butter
1.2 lb. dried shrimp
2 tbsp. achiote
1/2 small onion
1 gfarlic clove
2 tomatoes
2 eggs
Oil
Salt to taste
Separate the chipilín leaves from the harder stems (discard these).  Steam the leaves.
Blend up the tomato, onion and garlic. Fry.
Add the cooked leaves and the shrimps.
Dilute half a cup of masa in a cup of water.  Dissolve in this the achiote.  Add to the tomato sauce. 
Meanwhile, mix the rest of the masa with the cheese, butter and eggs.  Form small rounds.  Fry golden. 
Anoint these with the tomato-chipilín mix, making open-face or covered "sandwiches."
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:20)
Garfish tamales
From the north part of the state--near Tabasco.  Compare the Tabasco recipe for this.
2 lb. masa
1 small cooked garfish
1 lb. lard
3 garlic cloves
2 onions
1 lb. tomato
1 yellow chile
1 bunch chives
Banana leaves
Salt to taste
Bone and fry the fish. 
Chop the vegetables finely.  Add to the fish.  Cook quickly.
Make tamales in the usual way.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:18)
Green Corn Tamales
          
20 ears of green corn
1 1/2 lb. sugar
1 lb. butter
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Shuck the ears, but be careful not to damage the shucks.  Grind the corn.  Beat in the other ingredients.  Wash the corn shucks, trim off the tips, and make tamales--two tablespoons of mix per leaf of shuck.  Steam for 45 minutes.
The corn in question would be regular eating corn: firmer and less sweet than United States sweet corn.  If using sweet corn, cut down the sugar considerably, and the butter somewhat.
Green Corn Tamales, II
18 ears of sweet corn
1/2 lb. cream (get Mexican-style sour cream if you can find it)
8 eggs
1/2 lb. butter
Sugar to taste
Cinnamon
Mexican white cheese
Salt to taste
Make as above. 
A common variant saves you from so much cholesterol: leave out the eggs and butter, cut down on the cinnamon, and use fairly soft cheese.  This produces, basically, a cheese tamale. 
Both forms are common market fare, and excellent.
 
Pork Rib Tamales
2 lb. masa
2 lb. lard
1 lb. potatoes
4 dried chiles
6 toasted (or fried) tortillas
Lard for frying
1/2 lb. tomatillos
1 lb. tomatoes
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp. achiote paste
5 cumin seeds
Saffron
2 lb. Small pork ribs, cut up (as in "country style")
Salt to taste
Cook and mash the potatoes, mix with the masa and lard, and prepare the tamale dough with this.
Toast and seed the chiles.  Grind, along with the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic, achiote, cumin seeds and saffron.  Do not grind too fine.  Cook the ribs in this, quickly; or cook the ribs separately and simmer briefly in this sauce.  Make tamales the usual way.  They have to be large, to accommodate the rib bones.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:19
Rice Tamales
2 lb. rice
1 lb. butter
1 lb. sugar
1 quart water
2 tsp. baking powder
Corn leaves
Cook the rice.  Dry it out and grind it.  Beat the butter until creaemy.  Beat in the rice powder and baking powder.  When it is thoroughly beaten up, add a bit of warm water, and then beat in the sugar.  Meanwhile, soak the corn leaves to soften. 
Put two or three tablespoonfuls of mixture on each corn leaf, wrap, and steam 3/4 hour.
Tamales with Saffron
4 lb. masa
2 lb. lard
2 lb. chicken meat, shredded
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
15 highland Chiapas chiles (or less, or even more, to taste)
2 pieces of French bread, toasted (optional)
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 lb. tomatoes, chopped very fine
20 saffron threads
1/2 tsp. ground clove
Almonds, plums and/or pimento strips (optional)
Salt to taste
Banana leaves
            
Grind all the spices (together with the toasted bread, if wanted).  Fry the onion and garlic in a few ounces of the lard; take out and discard if you want.  In the oil, fry the tomatoes, then add the spices and cook down to a sauce.  Add in the chicken.  Some sugar can be added if desired.
Mix the masa with the rest of the lard.  Add the salt.  Anoint the leaves with this.  If wanted, add to each tamale an almond, a plum, and/or a pimento strip.  Then add the sauce and cook as usual.                                     
Tamales with Hojasanta ("mumu" or "momo" in parts of Chiapas)
2 lb. masa
1 lb. lard
1 lb. beans, cooked, mashed and fried
20 small highland chiles--seeded, fried and ground
2 tbsp. dried shrimps, ground
2 tbsp. ground squash seeds (sikil)
30 hojasanta leaves
6 bunches of maize leaves
Salt to taste
Mix the masa with the lard and salt.  Mix the beans, shrimp, squash seed meal and chiles.  Soak the corn leaves.  Make tamales on the hojasanta leaves, wrap up, and wrap these in turn in the corn leaves.  Steam half an hour.
A variant recipe uses far more squash seeds--two cups.  This makes a much richer tamale.  Suit yourself.
(Freely based on Conaculta Oceano 2000a:17, plus field experience)
Vegetable Tamales
4 lb. masa
2 chicken breasts, shredded
3 carrots
3 summer squash
2 lb. tomatoes
1/2 cup chickpeas (cooked)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. baking powder
2 lb. lard
Salt to taste
Corn leaves
Mix the lard, baking powder and salt with the masa.  Fr the garlic and onion, cut up, then add the other vegetables, all chopped finely.  Then add the meat and spices.  Then make and cook tamales in the usual way, steaming for an hour.
SOUPS
Bread Soup
A thoroughly Spanish recipe, but too popular in Chiapas to leave out.
6 sweet rolls (any kind of Chiapan-style sweet bread: rolls with a little sugar and shortening)
4 French rolls
2 carrots
Handful of green beans
6 baby summer squash
2 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 onion
2 tomatoes
1 sprig thyme
 sprig oregano
4 tbsp. lard
2 quarts chicken stock
2 plantains, sliced (and fried if you want)
3 oz. raisins
3 tbsp. sugar
A few threads of saffron, and/or a cinnamon stick
A few peppercorns
Salt to taste
                
Cut the breads into small slices and toast.  Cut up and cook the vegetables separately.  Grease a saucepan.  Alternate slices of bread with cooked vegetables; scatter in the herbs and raisins.  The last layer should be bread, with slices of egg on top to decorate.  Then pour on the stock and cook just enough to make the whole dish piping hot.                                     
The stock should be just enough to cover the bread and be more or less absorbed by it.  This is one of those "soups" in which the spoon will often stand up by itself.  It is interesting in that it is the only soup I know from south Mexico that resembles the migas (crumbled bread) dry-soups so extremely common and important in southern Spain.
Variants exist with other spicing; with parsley, mint, or epazote; with wine; etc.  Creativity is the watchword.
             
Chipilín Soup
What would Chiapas do without chipilín?  It's a vital source of vitamins and minerals in the diet.  A simpler form (without the dumplings) of this superb soup is particularly popular--more or less a daily food.
2 quarts water
1 green or maturing onion with stem
1 green chile
Grains from two ears of sweet corn
1 large bunch chipilín
1 lb. masa
3 oz. lard
1/2 lb. fresh Mexican white cheese, crumbled
2 avocadoes
2 limes
Cut up the vegetables and put in the water.
Mix the masa, lard, and salt.
Make dumplings of this, stuffed with the cheese.  Add to the soup.  Boil all, quickly.
Serve with slices of avocado, more cheese, and lime wedges.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:25)
Cream of Chipilín Soup
A basic soup in south Mexico.  Many great minds have expended noble energies in creating variants, some of which are listed below.
2 cups chipilín leaves
1 tbsp. butter
4 very young, tender summer squash
Grains from 4 ears of sweet corn
1/2 cup cream
1/2 quart boiled milk
1 small onion, cut in quarters
Salt and pepper to taste
Start the soup by cooking the leaves in water. 
Meanwhile, fry in butter the onion (chopped).  Take out when golden.  Put the cut-up summer squash and fresh corn into the oil and fry quickly.
Add in the milk, pepper and salt.  Cook a minute or less.
Turn off the flame, and add the cream, stirring constantly.
The really traditional, indigenous form of this soup leaves out the butter and milk.  Fry the onion in oil or lard.  Use corn meal, or toasted corn meal (atole), instead of milk.  In this case, mix the corn meal into the water first. Then add the leaves, and proceed otherwise as above.  Add some white cheese, crumbled or in chunks.
Variant:  The fresh corn is left out when not in season. 
Variant (upscale):  To the basic soup, add maize dumplings.  Cook.  Near the end, add white Mexican cheese squares.  Serve with a dollop of Mexican sour cream poured in.  Variant of the variant:  put the cheese in the dumplings—i.e., make a half-inch-thick ball of corn meal with a bit of cheese in the center.
Variant, or closely related soup ("squashvine soup"):  Add the tender tips of squash vines--butternut squash is a good pick for this.  The tendrils at the end, plus the very smallest leaves (under an inch wide), are used.  Reduce the chipilín accordingly, or eliminate it altogether and just use squashvine tips.  Good, garden-fresh, tender squashvine tips are among the most delightful of all vegetables.
(Rather freely based on Conaculta Oceano 2000a:26, with field experience added)
Covered Rice
A "soup" although the rice absorbs all the liquid.  Such dishes are sopas secas, "dry soups," in Spanish.  This is not oxymoronic; no one expects sopas to be soups in the English sense.
This is a rather elaborate restaurant dish.
1/2 lb. rice
1 chicken breast, shredded
4 eggs: two raw, two hardboiled
2 large chorizos, sliced and fried
1 onion
1 tomato
3 large summer squash
33 carrots
1 can chickpeas
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 stick butter
3 oz. sugar
1 1/2 oz. capers
Almonds
Raisins
Saffron
Oil or lard
Salt and pepper to taste
                                         
Like Chinese fried rice, this dish is better with leftover rice--cook the rice well in advance.
Cook the rice with the saffron and, by preference, some of the raisins, almonds and capers.  Chop the vegetables and cook briefly with salt.  Take out and fry with the chicken.  Butter a casserole dish.  Layer rice with almonds, raisins, capers, slices of hard-boiled egg, and chorizo slices.  Then top with the vegetables and chicken, then a last layer of rice. 
Separately, beat the whites of the other two eggs till they form peaks.  Add the yolks, flour and sugar.  Cover the casserole with this and bake till all is thoroughly heated.                  
Naturally, simpler variants or relatives exist, grading downward into rice refried with vegetables and whatever bits of meat are available.
Dried Shrimp Soup          
In contrast to the preceding, this is a typical household recipe.
2 lb. large dried shrimp
4 chilpotle chiles
3 guijillo chiles
1 1/2 lb. tomatoes
 onion
2 carrots (optional)
2 potatoes (optional)
2 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
Water
Soak the shrimps in hot water, shell, and clean.  Boil the shells for stock; strain.  Add the shrimp to this--a total of 1 1/2 quarts water--with the chiles (seeded), garlic and onions. 
Roast the tomatoes and grind.  Add to the soup, along with vegetables as desired.
Variant:  add a small can of pimento strips and grind these with the tomatoes.
Flower and Shoot Soup
2/3 lb. squash flowers
1/3 lb. tender tips of squash vines                                      
2 ears sweet corn
2 large summer squash
1 tomato
1 serrano chile
1 quart water
Oil or lard
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the grains off the corn ears.  Separately, blend the tomato with the chile and fry the paste.  Add the water, then the squash (cut up in thin slices), then the rest of the ingredients.  Cook till vegetables just begin to soften.
It would be hard to imagine a more refreshing summer soup.  For an even lower-calorie variant, don't fry the tomato.
Young pea tendrils are also popular in Chiapas, and are even better than squash vine-tips.  They should be stir-fried or steamed.
                                                      
Green Rice (another "dry soup")
1 cup rice
4 poblano chiles
2 cooked eggs
1 piece (size according to taste) of onion
1 sprig of parsley, and/or any other green herbs, such as cilantro or chipilín
1/3 lb. lard or oil
2 cups milk
2 cups water
2 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
Wash the rice and dry in the sun.  Seed the chiles.  Toast them and wrap in plastic or towel, then peel them.  Grind them in the milk.  In the lard, fry the rice.  When it begins to color, add the onion and garlic, chopped.  When these are transparent, add water, parsley, and salt; cover and boil.  When it begins to boil, turn down flame to a very low simmer.  Add the milk-chile mix toward the end and simmer till it is absorbed.  Decorate with slices of cooked eggs.
A more folk variant leaves out the milk and eggs. 
Juliana Soup
2 quarts chicken stock
1 chayote
3 summer squash
2 carrots
3 potatoes
Slice of cabbage, or few leaves of kale
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
1 threads saffron (optional)
6 French rolls, sliced
Oil, if wanted
Salt to taste
Chop the vegetables finely and put to boil.  Fry or toast the bread slices and put in bowl.  Serve the soup over these.                          
A local version of standard French or Spanish vegetable soup.  Kale and mustard greens are at least as typical of Chiapas as cabbage; try it with them.  Naturally, this is another dish of a basically "open city" sort, and any seasonal vegetable can be used.
Shuti Soup
"Shuti" is an Indian name for large river snails, popular in Chiapas.  This soup is included mainly for ethnographic interest, but it would be good with more or less any seafood.
Shuti
1/2 lb. tomato
2 quarts water
1 onion
1 hojasanta leaf
l/2 lb. toasted squash seeds
2 ancho chiles, seeded and soaked
Quickly cook and trim the snail.  Cook all for 15 minutes.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:17)
Soup to Raise the Dead (Caldo Levanta-muertos)
1 tongue (veal or beef; whole tongue, untrimmed)
1 brain (ditto)
1 oxtail
1 chicken
3 large tomatoes
1 large onion
1 head garlic
1 large sprig thyme
1 large sprig oregano
Achiote
Small highland chiles
Salt to taste
Water
Boil and skin the tongue.  Cook the brains briefly with salt.  Cut up the chicken and boil.  Separately, fry the achiote, then add in the tomato, onion, garlic, thyme and oregano (the vegetables being chopped).  Add these into the pot with the brains; then add the meat, cut up.  Cook till done.  Fry the chiles and blend; add at the last minute.
This may or may not raise the dead, but at the worst it will do as well as anything else for the purpose.  It is the sort of thing people love to recommend for a cold or a hangover; perhaps that is the source of the name.
Squash-flower Soup
1/2 cup cream
1/2 lb. squash flowers (trimmed of stems)
8 summer squash
4 poblano chiles
2 sweet corn ears
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tbsp. epazote, cut up
1 quart boiled bilk
1/2 stick butter
Salt to taste
Fry the onion in the butter.  Cut the flowers into 3-4 pieces each and add.  Seed, roast and peel the chiles; cut up and add.  Then add the grains from the corn ears; then the squash, cut up.  Stir-fry all.  Season and cover.  Boil for a few minutes, then add the milk and the epazote and simmer briefly.  Finally add the cream.                 
                                                               
Sweet Corn Soup
8 cobs sweet corn
3 tomatoes
1 1/2 oz. butter
1 onion
/2 tsp. pepper
Salt to taste
Water
Cut the corn off the cobs.  Blend up some of the grains and add to some water.  Blend up the tomato and fry in the butter with the rest of the corn, the pepper and the onion (chopped).  Combine all and cook very briefly.
                            
Tapachula Soup
Tapachula, the market city of far southeast Chiapas, has its own cuisine.
1 lb. squash flowers
2 tbsp. lard
1 onion
Grains from 2 ears sweet corn
2 quarts milk
2 oz. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup cream
2 summer squash
3 tbsp. flour
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Wash the flowers and remove stems.  Cut up and fry in lard.  Separately fry the onion (cut up).  Add the corn.  Add half the milk and combine all the above. 
Blend all.  Add the rest of the milk.
Fry the flour in butter.  Mix in some milk (i.e., make a standard white sauce).  Season with salt and pepper. 
Meanwhile, separately, cook the squash; cut up; fry quickly.  Then dip these slices in a flour-egg batter and deep-fry.
Put the cream in a soup tureen.  Pour in the soup.  Add the fried squash and serve immediately.
Tortilla Soup
A Chiapan variant of a universal Mexican staple.
1/2 cup cream
18 tortillas, toasted and cut into wedges
2 oz. grated Mexican white cheese
1 tomato      
1 small chile (fresh, or, if dried, seeded and soaked)
3 cups chicken stock
Sprig of mint
2 garlic cloves
Pinch of black pepper
Salt to taste
Peel the tomato (after immersing in boiling water for a minute to make this possible) and blend up with the chile and garlic.  Combine this with the other ingredients and bring to boil.
Here, too, anything and everything goes.  Leaving out the cream; adding some of the chicken meat; using other herbs; adding more vegetables--No two soups need be alike.                                      
MEAT
Asado
2 lb. meat (pork or lamb, preferably)
4 ancho chiles
2 garlic cloves
/2 tsp. pepper
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 arrayan leaves (a local Chiapas plant; just use more bay leaves)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1 oz. lard
Salt to taste
Seed the chiles and fry.  Blend up.  Separately, grind the garlic, thyme, and oregano.  Cut up the meat and fry it in the lard.  When it is half done, add the other ingredients and cook another 20 minutes.
Variants on this theme involve marinating beef or pork steaks in the recado and cooking them in a pan, etc.
Chanfaina
Chiapas version of a classic Iberian dish.
2 lb. sheep tripe and/or assorted variety meats of sheep or goat
Piece of sheep's liver
2 tomatoes or 1/3 lb. tomatillos
1 ancho chile
1 small French roll, toasted
1 sprig parsley
1/2 tsp. achiote
/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Oil
Salt to taste
Wash the tripe and cool with salt.  Separately, blend the tomatoes, chile (soaked and seeded), toast, liver, pepper and cinamon.  Fry the achiote and then add in the blended vegetables.  Then add the tripes and parsley, all cut up.  Boil. 
Chanfaina a la Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is an old, tranquil market town in central Chiapas.
1 1/2 lb. beef variety meats: liver, heart, tripes, kidneys
1 tomato
1 onion
Sprig of thyme
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves
2 black peppercorns
1 tbsp. breadcrumbs
1/2 cup liver paste (homemade; cook and grind the liver)
2 tbsp. achiote
Lard
2 tbsp. vinegar
Salt to taste
Cook the beef parts in salted water.  Take out the meat; save the stock. Cut up the meat.
Chop the tomato and onion and fry in lard.  Add the cut-up meat and stir-fry.  Then add the stock from the meat.  Dissolve the ground liver and breadcrumbs in some of the stock.  Add the vinegar, achiote, and spices.   Combine all and cook ten minutes.
Chojen Salad
A common Highland Maya dish with a Maya name.
½ lb. cold roast beef
1 onion
2 tomatoes
3 bunches of radishes, cut up
Juice of 2 limes or bitter oranges
Green chiles
Salt to tasste
Cut up all ingredients finely.  Mix.                                      
A standard variant uses a beef stomach, cooked, cooled, and cut up.  This may not be to the taste of all readers.
Cocido
1 lb. beef, cooked and cut up
1 lb. pork ribs, ditto
1 lb. pork back meat, ditto
1 lb. beef brisket, ditto
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 bunch cilantro
11 tsp. achiote
Longaniza, sliced
3 chayotes
Handful of green beans
6 small potatoes
4 carrots, cut up
1 small cabbage, cut up in chunks
2 corn ears in chunks
1 quince, cut up and cored
3 small sour apples, whole
6 peaches (fairly hard ones)
1 plantain
6 summer squash
Water
Salt to taste
Put in a large pot enough water.  Add salt, onion, garlic and tomato.  Separately, fry the achiote; throw out the seeds and add the oil to the pot.  Then add the meats and vegetables.  Simmer for about half and hour.                                                   
Cold Pork Leg
Another of the cold meat dishes so popular for lunch in Chiapas.
1 pork leg
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
2 bay leaves
2 arrayan leaves (or 2 more bay leaves)
2 limes
Water
Salt to taste
Spice mix:
2 ancho chiles
1 tomato
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
2 bay leaves
2 arrayan (or bay) leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
Oil
Salt to taste
Marinate the leg in the lime juice with water and salt for 3 hours.  Then take out of this liquid and boil in water to which the herbs are added.
Meanwhile, seed and fry the chiles.  Blend with the other ingredients (except the leaves).  Fry the resulting mix quickly, adding the whole leaves. 
Cover the leg with this, bake half an hour, chill, and serve sliced.
Variant: Make more recado, slash the leg, and rub the extra recado into the slashes.  This is less authentic but spicier.
Grilled Ham
1 smoked ham (Virginia ham will do)
5 onions
4 heads garlic
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
6 laurel leaves
5 arrayan leaves
1/2 lb. brown sugar
1 large piece of pineapple
1 stalk of fennel (finocchio)
7 quarts or more of water
Boil the ham for two hours or more with all the ingredients except the sugar.  Cool and skin it.  Slice.  Sprinkle the slices with sugar and grill them.
Fiambres
Fiambres just means "cold cuts" in Spanish.
1 veal tongue
1 chicken
8 pig's feet (that is, 8 feet, not the feet of 8 pigs)
1 lettuce head
6 tomatoes
6 onions
3 avocados
8 radishes
2 oranges
3 tbsp. vinegar
/2 cup oil
Salt to taste
Boil the meats.  Make a salad with the lettuce (cut up), tomatoes (in strips), onions, oil and vinegar.  Cut up the meats and mix into the salad.  Garnish with radishes, orange slices and wedges of avocado. 
It is good to make this in two parts: first mix the meat and dressing, then leave it to marinate for a few hours, then add the vegetables just before serving.
As the name suggests, you can really use any cold boiled meat for this.
Mixed Meats with Beans
Variant of the pork-and-beans dish (probably of Celtic ancestry) known everywhere in the Hispanic/Iberian world. 
2 lb. black beans
6 oz. salted meat
6 oz. chicharron (fried pork rinds)
6 oz. longaniza sausage
6 oz. pork short ribs
1 onion
1 head garlic
Pickled serrano chiles
Salt to taste
Wash and soak beans.  Cook with garlic and onion.  After half and hour, take them off the fire and add in the meats.  Cook another half hour.  Add the chiles and cook ten minutes.
We recommend that the salt meat be soaked and drained first, and the sausage fried to get rid of excess oil.
Mole Chiapas Style
A local variant of the Mexican staple.
1/2 lb. mulato chiles
1/2 lb. ancho chiles
Oil
Chicken or turkey boiled with an onion; save the stock
1 plantain
3 oz. raisins
5 oz. sesame seeds, toasted
3 pieces of sweet bread, toasted or fried
1 tortilla, toasted or fried
1/4 onion, cut up and fried
2 lb. tomatoes, cut up and fried
Salt and pepper to taste
Seed and fry the chiles.  Soak in the stock. 
Fry the onion, then the tomato. 
Blend the chiles and stock; separately, the onion and tomato; then the other ingredients, all in the stock.
Cook till the mix thickens.  Pour over the fowl.
Variants: cinnamon and garlic can be added to good advantage.  Other spices are possible but less traditional.  (Chocolate is not used in Chiapas moles.)          
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:44)
Ninguijuti
Interesting for the indigenous name, from Zoque.
 
1 lb. pork chops
1 lb. pork loin meat
2 tbsp. lard
2 tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
Hot chile to taste
2 tbsp. achiote paste
Juice of 2 limes
3/4 cup masa
Salt to taste
Cut up the meat.  Cook in a little water.  Then fry in lard.
Blend the tomato, garlic, chile and achiote.  Add to the meat.  Add the stock, beating in the masa and lime juice.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:45
Picadillo
1/2 lb. beef
1/2 lb. pork leg
3 potatoes
1 tomato
1 chayote
2 carrots
2 ears of sweet corn
4 oz. string beans
1 quince
Large sprig of mint
1 lb. cabbage
1 tsp. achiote
3 garlic cloves
1 quart water
Oil
Salt to taste
Cut the meat up finely.  Chop the onion and garlic.  Fry in oil in the saucepan.  Add the tomato, finely chopped.  Then add the water, salt and achiote.  (If you use the grains, not the paste, fry separately and take the seds out.)  When it begins boiling, add the meat, then the quince, then the vegetables--the sweet corn last, toward the end.  Finally add the leaves from the mint, just before serving. 
Pork and Beans with Chipilin
2 lb. pork
3 garlic cloves
2 big bunches chipilin
1 lb onion
2 jalapeno chiles
2 lb. tomatoes
2 lb. cooked beans
Cook the meat with the garlic.  Whgen cooked, fry the chipilin, onion (chopped), chiles (seeded) and tomatoes (cut up).  Add to the beans.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:39)
                      
Pork and Sausage with Scarlet Runner Beans
Another variant on the pork-and-beans dish.  See above, Mixed Meats with Beans.
2 lb. scarlet runner beans (or any dried bean)
2 ancho chiles
1 slice of bread
1 tomato
2 chorizos
1/2 lb. short ribs of pork, cut up
1/2 lb. longaniza sausage
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
Salt to taste
Wash, soak and cook the beans till tender (if dry, they will take a couple of hours or more).  Seed and fry the chiles.  Grind the bread and fry it up with the cut-up sausages and meat.  Combine all and simmer.  Arrayan or bay leaves make a very good addition.        
Pretty much the same thing is made with lentils, which take much less time to cook and thus can be cooked with the meat (Conaculta Oceano 2000a:40). 
Pork Leg
1 bone-in pork leg (3 to 5 lb.)
1 onion
1 bunch parsley
2 chorizo sausages
2 garlic cloves
3 oz. ham
3 oz. butter
3 large tomatoes
Juice of 5 oranges
1 tsp. pepper
1 cup water
Salt to taste
Rub the leg with butter, salt and pepper, and the juice of the oranges.  Marinate in the orange juice overnight.
Bone the leg and stuff the resulting hollow:
Chop the ham, onion, parsley, chorizos and one tomato finely. Fry all.  Drain thoroughly and stuff into the pork leg.
Add the water and the other two tomatoes, blended up, to the marinade.  Bake the pork in this, basting occasionally.  Serve decorated with lettuce leaves and other garnishes.
Puchero with Chaya
2 lb. pork chops
1/4 lb. rice
Oil
6 peppercorns
Sprig of thyme
3 tomatoes
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 large bunch chaya leaves
Cook the chops in 2 quarts of water with the onion and one garlic clove.  Seaprately, roast and peel the tomatoes, and blend with another garlic clove. 
Fry to color a strip on onion and the last garlic clove.  Add the rice, fry golden, and add in the tomatoes.  Add the spices.
Cook quickly, add 3/4 cup water, and then the pork and chaya.  Cook til rice is done.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:28)
Siguamut
An indigenous dish, originally made with game.  Also known as "siguamonte."  Any meat with bone in can be used. 
2 lb. meat
1 tomato
1 onion
6 small potatoes
3 carrots
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp. achiote
1 sprig epazote
10 small highland chiles
2 tbsp. oil
Salt to taste
Cut up the meat and roast it.  Then cook in salted water for an hour if using  venison--otherwise, omit or reduce this step.  Fry the achiote; then, in the oil, the garlic, onion, and tomato, all chopped.  Add all to a baking dish with potatoes, carrots (cut up), chiles (toasted and ground), the epazote and the salt.  Cook 15-20 minutes.
Variants exist; any game can be used, and the vegetables can be adapted as you wish.
Stuffed Chiles
1 lb. pork
10 poblano chiles
2 small onions
5 tomatoes
1 carrot
2 summer squash
1 1/2 oz flour
Few raisins
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp. pepper
4 garlic cloves
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
Oil
Salt to taste              
Seed the chiles, fry, leave in a towel for a while, and peel. 
Cook the meat with the garlic, onion and tomato.  Cool and cut up.  Fry the onion and tomato.  Cut up the other vegetables and add in, along with the meat, raisins and seasoning. 
Cut up the rest of the tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs.  Fry and blend.
Stuff the chiles; powder with flour.   Beat the whites of the eggs to peaks.  Add in the yolks and a tablespoon of flour.  Cover the chiles with this and fry in hot oil, then add the sauce and simmer.     
Stuffed Onions
6 oz. cooked pork leg
3 large onions
2 oz. flour
3 tomatoes
3 eggs, separated
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
/2 tsp. pepper
2 garlic cloves
Oil
Salt to taste
Cook the onions with salt for 15 minutes (or less).  Take out and carefully remove centers.  Chop these.                 
Cook the pork and chop finely.  Fry with the onion centers, one garlic clove (mashed) and one tomato (chopped).
Beat the egg whites to peaks. Add in the yolks and flour.  Cap the onions with this and fry them in a good deal of oil.  Set on paper towels to blot up excess oil.
Meanwhile, roast, peel, chop and fry the other tomatoes, with the other garlic clove and the herbs.  Blend all. 
Put the stuffed onions into this sauce and simmer 10-15 minutes.                                      
Stuffed Pork Loin
One of the most popular dishes, existing in countless variants.
1 pork loin
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 eggs
4 summer squash
1 strip of pineapple
4 carrots
1 oz. lard
2 lb. tomato
3 oranges
1 head of lettuce
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
3 pickled jalapeno chiles
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp. pepper
Salt to taste
Open out and flatten the loin. 
Mix the salt, pepper, garlic (crushed), ground meat, orange juice and beaten eggs.  Cover the flattened loin with the ground meat.  Put on this slices of the vegetables; then roll up the loin in such a manner that every slice of the final roll will be slightly different. Tie it into a log shape, with the stuffing in the center. 
Fry it, adding the tomato (roasted and blended), pepper, parsley, juice of one orange, and salt.  Cover and simmer for an hour.
Chill.  Serve cold, adorned with its sauce and with lettuce leaves and jalapenos.
Variants are mostly in regard to the vegetables used in the stuffing and the manner of their display.  For instance, they can be cut into long thin strips, such that they go all the way through the loin, making each slice the same.  Of course, various herbs and seasonings are used to create other variations.
Also, one can oven-roast the loin instead of frying and then simmering.  This isn't quite as good, but may be necessary if the loin is very large.
Tasajo
A Chiapa de Corzo dish, traditional in festivals. 
2 lb. tasajo
2 heaping tbsp. rice, soaked
1/4 cup achiote
1/3 lb. squash seeds, toasted and ground (sicil)
2 tomatoes
1/4 onion
4 oz. lard
Cook the meat a long time in a lot of water.
Then grind the rice with the achiote, in water, for a thick sauce.
Blend the tomato and onion.  Fry in lard.  Add the rice and achiote.  Then stir in the sicil, dissolved in stock.  Cook, stirring.
Serve as sauce on the meat.  (Or--untraditional--cut up the meat and finish cooking in the sauce.)
Tinga chiapaneca
3 1/2 lb. turkey meat
1 lbv. beef
1 lb. lamb
2 lb. chicken
1 lb. pork
1 branch bay leaves
3 hojasanta leaves
2 ancho chiles
1/ lb. tomato
1 onion
1 tbsp. ground oregano
2 large sprigs of thyme
1 stick cinnamon
3 or more peppercorns
1/4 cup vinegar
4 garlic cloves
Cut up the meat.  Boil in a bit of water with the bay and hojasanta leaves.  Meanwhile, seed and soak the chiles; grind with the tomato, onion, garlic and spices.  Add this to the meat.  Cover and cook in oven for 2 hours.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:43)
Tzotzil Radish Salad
Radishes
Freshly made chicharrones (fried pork rinds) in 1" squares
Cut up equal amounts of the above.
Season with chopped mint and parsley, and enough lime juice to thoroughly wet all.
POULTRY AND RABBIT
Chicken in the Pot
1 chicken
4 potatoes
4 chayotes
1/2 cup olives
3 tomatoes, cut up
1 onion, cut up
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
3 cloves
3 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 arrayan leaves (or two more bay leaves)
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 pinch saffron
Salt to taste
1 pimento, cut up, or some pimento strips (optional)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)
1 cup vinegar
1 cup white wine
Cut up the chicken.  Peel and slice the vegtetables.  Combine all except the pimento and chickpeas.  Cover the pot and cook in the oven.  Adorn with the pimento and chickpeas at the end.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:40)
Chicken with Chorizo
1 chicken
4 chorizos
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1.2 lb. potatoes
1 quart chicken stock
Oil
Salt to taste
Chop and fry the garlic and onion.  Add the chorizo meat (taken out of the skins).  Drain.  Fry well, then add the stock. 
Cut the chicken into pieces.  Add to the stock with the potatoes and cook all.
Chicken with Fruit
1 chicken, cut in pieces
Thyme, oregano, salt, and bay leaves to taste
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 chayote, cut up
1/2 lb. carrots, cut up
1 onion
1/2 lb. tomatoes
1/2 lb. potatoes, cut up
2 slices pineapple
8 prunes
2 tbsp. raisins
8 olives
1 ancho chile, seeded and cut up
Marinate the chicken in the vinegar with the herbs.  Cook with all the ingredients. 
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:35)
Pressed Turkey
Otherwise known as "stuffed turkey."  Another passionate favorite.
1 turkey (8-10 lb.)
3 lb. ground pork
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 small can of chopped pimento
3-4 oz. almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup vinegar
1 cup sweet wine
1 green onion with stem, cut up
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
1 head of garlic
Salt to taste
Cook and bone the turkey.  Wash and rub with salt and pepper. 
To the ground meat, add the other ingredients, except the herbs.  Mix well.  Stuff the turkey and sew it up.  Cook in a large pot with the herbs and salt.  Take out and press by wrapping it in a towel and leaving a heavy object on it; leave all night in the refrigerator to chill, thus weighted down.  Serve cold, sliced, with lettuce leaves and radish for garnish, and red sauce.                                     
Rabbit a la Zihuamonte
1 rabbit
2 potatoes
5 cloves
2 green chiles
3 tbsp. oil
2 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 ancho chile
1/4 cup masa
Sprig of epazote
6 peppercorns
Cut up the rabbit.  Bake till golden.  Then put in a pot with water.  Add the potatoes, cloves and green chiles. 
Cut up and fry the garlic and onion.  When colored, add the tomato and the rabbit.  Fry separately the dried chiles (seeded and ground).  Add some of the stock, thickened with the masa.  Stir.  Add the epazote and peppercorns.  Then add to the rabbit. 
This dish is perfectly good made with chicken.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:38)
Turkey Chanfaina
1/4 turkey breast
Liver, gizzard, and if possible the feet, head and blood of the turkey
2 ancho chiles
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tomato
2 tbsp. lard
2 plaintains
1 small piece of turkey fat
1 clove
1 peppercorn
Sprig of oregano
Stick of cinnamon
Salt to taste
Cook the blood in salted water.  Cut the resulting coagulated blood cake into pieces.
Seed, roast and soak the chiles.
Cook the turkey parts.
Blend the onion, garlic, tomato, and one of the chiles with some of the stock.  Fry this in lard.  Add to the pot with the turkey parts.
Peel the plantain, cut up, and add.  Boil till it is tender.  Add the other herbs and spices.
As with other such recipes, if you find the blood and innards too gruesome, this one is perfectly good with just turkey meat!
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:37)
Charcuterie
If you are totally compulsive, here's how to smoke meat Chiapas style: Build a box about 5' square with a grill at the bottom.  Suspend hams and sausages within.  Put hot charcoal on the grill and cover with damp sawdust of pine and/or oak.  Leave till the meats take on the color of old gold.  This is a minimalist description.  I haven't tried it.  Only someone who knows the tricks of the trade should make the attempt.  Naturally, the charcutiers have more elaborate equipment.
Butifarra
These sausages are to be eaten as soon as made.
4 lb. fresh pork leg
2 eggs
1 lime
3 shots of brandy
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. anise seed
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
2 bay leaves
2 arrayan leaves
3 quarts water
Sausage skins
Trim off some fat from the meat.  Grind fine.  Add the salt.  Toast the anise seeds and grind them; add to meat.  Add the egg, pepper, nutmeg and a squeeze of lime.  Mix well, adding in the brandy while doing so.                       
Stuff the sausage skins.
Boil the herbs in water.  Add the sausages and boil till done.                                                             
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:39)
Chorizo
4 lb. pork leg
6 ancho chiles
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
2 tsp. pepper
1 head of garlic, peeled and mashed
Small cup vinegar
Salt to taste (a good deal is necessary)
Sausage skins
Grind the meat fine.  Seed and soak the chiles; blend and add.   Add the herbs and garlic, all ground, and the salt and vinegar.  Stuff the sausage skins thoroughly, making sure there are no air pockets or loosely filled places.  Dry or smoke the sausages.
As usual, you can just fry up the mix instead of making sausages with it. 
Longaniza
4 lb. pork
3 heads garlic
2 tbsp. pepper
2 large tomatoes                       
Salt to taste (a good deal is necessary)
Sausage skins
Separate lean and fat pieces of pork.  Chop up.  Peel and mash the garlic; chop the tomatoes fine.  Mix all and stuff the sausage skins, making sure they are thoroughly stuffed (no air pockets or loose places).  Dry or smoke.
Moronga
2 quarts blood
1 large onion
2 tomatoes
1 piece of pork fat, ground
1/2 cut cooked rice
Fresh chile, to taste
Mint leaves
Salt to taste (a good deal is necessary)
Sausage skins
Heat the blood.  When thoroughly hot, add the other ingredients, all chopped fine or ground.  Stuff the sausage skins.  Boil the sausages half an hour.  Dry (best done in slow oven).  Even without drying, they will keep, refrigerated, for a long time.  Do not store unrefrigerated (even if dried).
Simple Pate
1/2 lb. liver
/2 lb. pork
/2 lb. beef
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 bread roll
4 oz. lard
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook and grind the meats.  Fry the bread in the butter and soak in the milk; grind up.  Beat the eggs.  Mix all the ingredients and put into a greased mold that can be fitted into a bain-marie arrangement (easily jury-rigged with a couple of nesting saucepans).  Cover and simmer till cooked solid.  Chill, unmold, and serve sliced.
VEGETABLES


Baked Chayote
Scoop out the meat of a cooked chayote.  Mash with sugar, cinnamon, allspice and raisins.  Return to own shell.
Chiles in Escabeche
The same basic recipe is wonderful for wild mushrooms and other vegetables.  For these others (and even for the chiles, if you prefer), leave out the ginger and perhaps the cloves and cinnamon, and add more aromatic herbs and leaves.
2 lb. serrano chiles
1 quart vinegar
1 onion, cut up
1 oz. salt
10 cloves
1 stick cinnamon
10 peppercorns
Sprig of thyme
Sprig of oregano
Small piece of ginger            
5 garlic cloves
4 bay leaves
5 tbsp. olive oil, preferably extra virgin (though that is rare indeed in Chiapas)
Wash the chiles and pierce them with a fork.  Boil the vinegar with the spices, adding the chiles when the liquid begins to boil.  Cook till they are olive-colored. 
Fry the onion, garlic and bay leaves in the oil. 
Put this in a jar and add the chiles and vinegar.
If this is to be sealed and stored, sterilize as with any canned vegetables; but it's a great deal easier to leave it in the refrigerator.  Covered, it keeps indefinitely.
                                                        
Putznick
This is a Zoque dish.  Since the Zoque--the Indians of northwest Chiapas--are among the least known people in the Western Hemisphere, I include this recipe from the Banrural/Conaculta cookbook, for ethnographic interest.  Cutunuck is the flower of a local tree. 
1 cup cutunuck
1 tomato
1 onion
Chile to taste
1/2 cup squash seeds
2 eggs
Salt to taste
Boil the cutunuck.  Strain and press out the water.  Chop and fry the onion, tomato and chile.  Add the squash seeds.  Then add in the cutunuck, then the eggs (beaten). 
The only Zoque dish I have actually encountered is ordinary beans with some bacon and pork.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:48)
Scarlet Runner Beans
"Botil" to the Tzotzil Maya, for whom these beans are an important food.  These are large, mottled beans with a distinctive flavor.  Ordinary beans or dried limas can be substituted.  Use large beans that cook up soft but not mushy.
1 lb. scarlet runner beans                               
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. flour
10 highland Chiapas chiles
5 tbsp. oil
Salt to taste             
Wash the beans and soak overnight.  Cook for an hour.  Separately, fry the garlic and onion.  Separately (again), fry the chiles, adding the flour slowly.  Then combine all with the beans and simmer 15 minutes.
Any good dried chile will do.  The highland ones are small and hot, so adjust quantities (one really big New Mexico chile can equal to ten highland ones) and hotness.                                   
Soc Socpojin
Another recipe recycled from the Banrural-Conaculta cookbook for ethnographic interest.
3/4 lb. cooked black beans
1 large bunch chipilin
1 onion, chopped
1/2 lb. panela cheese
2 tbsp. lard
Fry the onion, added the beans, then the chipilin leaves.  Serve with strips of panela cheese.
(Conaculta 2000a:49)
Vegetables in Escabeche
1/2 lb. fresh chiles
1/2 lb. carrots
1/2 lb. summer squash
1/2 lb. onions
1 cauliflower
Sprig of thyme
Sprig oregano
4 bay leaves (or 2 bay leaves and 2 arrayan leaves)
1 quart vinegar
1 cup water
1 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. olive oil
15 black peppercorns
5 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
Cut the garlic and onion into strips and fry.  Cut up the other vegetables.  When the garlic and onion are fried golden, add the vinegar and herbs.  When this begins to boil, add the other vegetables.  Cook briefly; stop when vegetables are still firm.                  
This dish can be eaten as is, or kept to marinate.
Any mix of vegetables can be used.  Wild mushrooms are marinated the same way, and it is perfectly good for cultivated mushrooms as well.
White Beans
A nice vegetarian dish.
1 lb. white beans
1 ancho chile
1 small French bread roll
2 tomatoes
1 onion
3-5 serrano chiles, canned or fresh
1 small head of garlic
12 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
Oil and salt as needed
Wash beans and soak overnight.  Cook with the garlic and onion for 45 minutes.  Break up the bread and fry it with the chile (seeded and soaked), the onion and the tomato.  Add these to the beans, then add the spices.  Cook 15 minutes more.
Wild Mushrooms
2 lb. wild mushrooms
1/2 onion
2 lb. tomato
2 bell peppers
1 jalapeno chile, seeded
1 plantain, peeled and cut up
Lard
2 hojasanta leaves
Salt to taste
Wash the mushrooms and take off tough or spoiled parts.  Chop the ingredients.  Mix with lard and salt.
Lightly toast a banana leaf and lay the other ingredients on it.  Wrap all in a sheet of aluminum foil and steam 45 minutes.
The original recipe specified the local cusuche mushroom, but any flavorful mushroom does fine.  One can also leave out the plantain.
(Conaculta Oceano 2000a:49)
DESSERTS
Fruit Cheese
Peaches, apples, quinces, guavas and other fruit are preserved thus.  See Guava Paste recipe in Yucatan section.
Cut up, peel, core or seed and bring to boil.
Put in a colander and leave overnight.
Weigh the pulp.  Mix in sugar, equal to 2/3 of the weight.  (Use the remaining juice, strained out, for making jelly--or just drink it.)
Cook down, stirring constantly, till it begins to separate from the sides of the pot.  (Do this is a Teflon pot with a wooden spoon, unless you want  a fearful mess.)  Turn out into a pan, plate or dish, and cool till solid. 
Sandy Cookies a la Chiapas
1 lb. flour
3/4 lb. sugar
3/4 lb. butter
6 eggs
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. lime zest
11/4 cup milk
1/2 tbsp. baking soda
Cream the butter, mixing in the sugar and then the flour.  Beat in the eggs, one by one.  After this, add the lime juice and zest, and, finally, the baking soda dissolved in the milk.
Butter a cookie dish or a mold and bake till golden.  This recipe is for little cakes made in molds, but is fine for cookies.
DRINKS
The favorite local drink is raw rum, known as aguardiente ("burning water") in Spanish, and in Highland Maya as pox, which means "medicine."  (As in Yucatec, x is pronounced sh.)  It has the color and taste of water and the kick of a team of Chiapas mules.  Alcoholism is a problem, so some of the Maya communities have been shifting from pox to cola drinks for ceremonial occasions.  A myth has been duly elaborated that cola has magic powers.  This has led to a new political tension: competition between suppliers of rival cola brands. 
One of the great delights of San Cristobal is the punch, locally pronounced bonche, sold around the cathedral in the evening.  It dispels the mountain cold.  It consists of fruit cooked in water with spices, with pox added to taste.  
A mescal is made around Comitan from the local agaves; it is something of an acquired taste, being reminiscent of soap. 
Anisette
1 quart aguardiente (vodka will do)
1 lb. sugar
1 oz. anise seeds
Heaping tbsp. fennel seeds
Ten drops of anise essence
1 tsp. nutmeg
Mix and leave three days (more if you want it stronger, but it gets bitter).  Strain and rebottle.
This makes a traditionally sweet, syrupy product.  There is no reason not to cut the sugar way down, to make it bearable to those with a less sweet tooth.
All of Chiapas' many wonderful fruits are made into liqueurs by similar methods.  Take any fruit, macerate a bit if necessary, and steep in rum or vodka for a few days with a lot of sugar.
Bonche de Piña
1 pineapple
1/2 lb. sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 piece ginger
10 allspice berries
2 1/2 quarts water
Mash the pineapple with water.  Add the other ingredients and cook. 
Lace well with pox (or equivalent--any sort of rum is great).  Serve hot
It is traditional to crumble up panque--pound-cake--into this, but the result is possibly a bit much for most non-Chiapans.
Bonche de Frutas
This is the fitting end of a Chiapan meal!  There is nothing like warming up with bonche on a cold, drizzly night in front of the Cathedral in San Cristobal.
As above, but instead of pineapple, use finely cut up fresh apple, guava, pear, and perhaps a peach; also prunes, raisins, and bits of sugarcane. 
The fruits and spices vary a lot.  A cinnamon stick and some apple, guava and prunes are basic.
                                                  
Chocolate with Egg
2 lb. cacao beans
2 lb. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
Toast the beans on a comal till golden.  Take off the skins.  Grind in a metate with the sugar and cinnamon.  When finely ground, add the yolks, mix well, form into cakes and store.
If you aren't cooking with a comal over an open fire, oven-roast the beans and grind them fine in a food processor (blenders don't work for this).  
Many people add finely ground almonds along with, or instead of, the yolks.
Sour atole
A Maya ritual drink.
2 lb. maize
1/2 lb. sugar
8 cloves
Cinnamon to taste
Water
Soak maize in water for three days, enough to produce some souring.  Then drain, grind, and mix with 3 quarts water.  Add the spices and cook, stirring constantly, till the atole thickens.
Tascalate
This is the traditional chocolate drink of south Mexico.
Mix toasted corn meal, chocolate, achiote paste, and chile powder or cinnamon, to taste, in water.  Drink hot or cold.
This can be sweetened with honey or sugar, but traditionalists (among whom I number myself) prefer it with only the sweetness of the toasted corn meal.  Usually, the chile is used in the unsweetened version, the cinnamon in the sweetened.
Local pozole (maize drink) is made with chocolate and is similar.  (Pozole in the southeast is usually just cornmeal and water--not a rich stew as it is in north and west Mexico.)

Tabasco food; also the glossary and bibliography for this whole cookbook, at the end.

Tabasco was a center of civilization long before the Mayas.  With neighboring southern Veracruz, it was the center of the mysterious Olmec civilization, the earliest true civilization in North America.  The Olmecs built huge towns in the alluvial floodplains of the rivers.  They farmed corn and doubtless many other crops.  The Olmecs have long disappeared, leaving the huge, enigmatic stone heads that one sees in the parks and museums of Tabasco.  They probably spoke a language related to, or ancestral to, the Mixe and Zoque languages that survive in small, remote enclaves to the south.
            When Tabasco enters history--long before the Spanish conquest--it was inhabited by the Chol Mayas.  Today, the Chol live in isolated and impoverished rural settlements, and are known as "Chontal"--a Nahuatl word that means "foreigners" or "people of alien speech."  They are literally "strangers in their own land."  (Across the border in Chiapas, where their major classic sites are, they are still called Chol.)  Now that Maya writing has been deciphered (except for some refractory hieroglyphs), experts can read more than a thousand years of history from the stelae and temple inscriptions.  Maya has enough of a phonetic component to show that Cholti (ancestral to Chol) was indeed the language spoken in the courts and palaces of the central Classic Maya world. It was apparently the language of Palenque, the great ruined city still central to the Chol country.
            The food in those palaces must have been refined and sophisticated.  Chocolate, vanilla and probably allspice were cultivated.  Maize was used in countless ways.  The vegetables and herbs basic to Tabasco cooking were all abundant in many varieties.  Domestic animals were few, but game and fish were incomparably more abundant than they are today.  One can easily imagine the lords of Palenque or Comalcalco feasting on garfish tamales, snook wrapped in hojasanta leaves, roast pijijes, and turtle soup, topping it off with cups of chocolate flavored with vanilla and allspice.
            Everyday diet of commoners was something else.  When my friend Denise Brown went to live with the Chol while studying agriculture in the area, she asked them, casually, how long it had been since they had eaten.  The answer was: "About a week."  She was horrified--these people must be starving to death!  Yet, they looked reasonably plump and happy; something was obviously wrong here.  She quickly learned that "Chontal" don't eat their staple food; they drink it.  In the searing-hot, humid climate of Tabasco, so much body liquid is lost through sweating that rural people live on a liquid diet.  The staple food is thin corn meal mush known as pozol (a term that means "stew" in some parts of Mexico, but not here).  By itself, Tabascan pozol is so dull that English pirates in the 17th century gave it the punning English name of "po'soul."  But it can be flavored with chocolate, chile, salt, and the like.  More solid items can be added to it.  The rest of the diet was usually soup or stew also.  This would include meat, fish, beans, vegetables.  Chocolate—from home-grown, home-roasted cacao seeds—was a favorite drink.  The modern world has added beer and soda.  And after all that, a day's work in the sweat-bath climate can still leave a man or woman panting with thirst.  Since the climate has not changed much, and the work load of rural Maya has not changed much either, one can assume that the Classic Maya commoners also lived a life of pozole and soup.                                               
            The Chol world collapsed in the 9th century A.D.  Drought and chronic warfare proved more devastating to the central lowlands (of which Tabasco is a western extension) than elsewhere in Mayaland.  Populations were small and scattered.  The forests, largely cleared for farming in the Classic period, returned.  The Spanish conquistadors found a small and impoverished population.  By and large, after early contact, they bypassed Tabasco; it had no gold, no cities, nothing except good land for farming and ranching.  Even that land was too far from markets to be worth much.  Among Tabasco products, only chocolate—and, later, sugar—were valuable enough and portable enough to be worth much attention.
Thus, until a couple of generations ago, Tabasco was a tiny, sleepy enclave.  Most of it was a world of water: the delta complex of Mexico's greatest rivers, the Grijalva and Usumacinta, as well as other rivers draining the Mexican highlands.  Wandering sloughs threaded a vast rainforest broken by small clearings and plantations.   
Oil changed all that.  Tabasco is underlain by a vast oil field, a continuation of the oil-bearing formations of Texas and Louisiana.  Tabasco is now one of Mexico's richest states, and its capital, Villahermosa, is a boomtown.  The inevitable raw newness, vulgar displays of wealth contrasting with abject poverty, and other features of boomtowns around the world are visible. The life and culture of the "Chontal" Chol Maya, including their trials and tribulations in the corrupting madness of the oil boom, have been memorably described by Carlos Inchaustegui (1985, 1987).
     To tourists in search of quaint charm, Villahermosa is a nightmare, but I can't help loving it.  The vibrant excitement spills out of the oil offices and into the streets, restaurants and markets.  The Villahermosa market is a paradise of local fish, herbs, and foods, many of them quite strange to anyone who is not a choco (slang for "Tabascan").  Here one gets away from the heterogeneous rush of people from all over the world that throng the streets outside.  In the market, and--still more--in the countryside, one sees the real choco: slight, wiry, incredibly strong, and often showing evidence of long mixing of indigenous strains with Spanish and African colonizers.
These people have a long heritage.  Over the centuries since the Conquest, Tabasco produced a distinctive local culture based on Maya and Spanish traditions with some African influence.  It also participated in, and gave some distinctive flavor to, the national culture of Mexico.  The great poet Carlos Pellicer—whose work is so rich in Tabascan word-music that it is almost untranslatable—is only the most famous of a distinguished line of poets.  The great linguist and philologist Francisco Santamaria, who recorded Tabasco's folk music and lore for posterity, governed the state during the 1940's. 
Alluvial soil is rich, and Tabasco can produce almost any tropical vegetable or fruit that can be imagined.  It has, however, remained an agricultural backwater.  Sugar, the major crop today, is notoriously low-paying.  Cattle ranching, important from early days, was of the "extensive" variety: scrub cattle on poor pasture.  This almost certainly reduced the supply of meat; game-rich forests were cleared to produce a few thin steers.  This picture is changing rapidly, now that more capital is available to allow upgrading of stock and pasturage.  Vegetable-growing was also a losing game until recently: the local people were too poor to buy them, and the rest of Mexico was too far away for marketing.  Now, fruit and vegetable growing expands along with the urban economy.     
Tabasco has been the cacao center of Mexico since perhaps Olmec days, and still produces chocolate in many forms.  Chocolate factories produce cocoa powder, bars, and cookie-sized tablets of chocolate mixed with sugar and spices.  The sugar is local; Tabasco is an enormous sugar producer.  It also produces a great deal of tropical fruit, especially bananas.  Cattle are also common.  Unlike most of south Mexico, Tabasco has large areas of natural grassland, and thus cattle flourish without destroying the local ecosystem.  From early Spanish colonial times onward, cattle have been important in the local economy.  Old-time cows were tough and lean, suitable for tasajo, the dried salted jerky that is a staple in the area.  It required long boiling to be edible.  Until recently, cattle adapted to tropical climates and diseases did not produce quality beef.  Breeding programs on the King Ranch in Texas, and later elsewhere, developed quality tropical cattle, and revolutionized Latin American economy—not always for the better (Painter and Durham 1995), but Tabasco has suffered less than most areas.  Today it is a major supplier of beef.
The best of Tabasco food, however, comes from the water.  Tabasco is a semi-aquatic landscape--a world of vast rivers, sloughs, marshes, wetlands, seasonally flooded fields, filled-in former channels, and alluvial land covered with rainforest or swamp.  Such deltas are the richest of all environments.  The interface between water and air, and the constant input of nutrients by the rivers, produce conditions that maximize growth.  Fed as it is by the greatest rivers between the Mississippi and the Orinoco, Tabasco was perhaps the most productive land in all North America in pre-Columbian times.  In addition, the ducks and geese of North America find the delta country an ideal winter home, and once resorted there in millions.   It is still home to fish, ducks, turtles, crayfish, lobsters, shrimps, and such unique creatures as the pigua.
Some of these animals are now, alas, too rare to be recommended as food.  The various strange and succulent river turtles--known by such local names as hicotea, pochitoque, and guao (pronounced "wow!")--must be left out of this book, important as they were in the old days.  Now, they need careful protection to survive.  Manatees are gone, crocodiles are going fast, and where ducks flocked in millions there are now hundreds.  Overhunting, cattle range expansion, and uncontrolled pollution from the oil industry is rapidly reducing Tabasco to zoological desolation.  
Tabasco was great game country in the good old days.  Recipes for iguana, armadillo, paca, deer, peccary (javelina) and other creatures of the bush are found in the cookbooks.  Alas, these animals too are rapidly becoming extinct and are desperately in need of conservation.  Good management would easily permit them to expand their populations, and become again available for managed hunting.  Indeed, there is every reason to farm them.  Paca farms, in particular, have proved successful in other parts of Latin America.  The great Chiapas zoologist, Miguel Alvarez del Toro (1991), advocates farming them in south Mexico, and says that paca ham and bacon are unsurpassed!
            Isolation and rural poverty did not prevent Tabasco from developing a great cuisine; the oil-boom economy has not destroyed it.  Tabasco's cooking is distinctive, and is very different from the cuisine of the Yucatan Peninsula or anywhere else.  Achiote is less important than in Yucatan.  The distinctive recados of Yucatan are known only through borrowed dishes.  On the other hand, herbs are more important; hojasanta, chipilín and "Tabasco parsley" (see below) are used in large quantities.  The cooking of today has unmistakable Maya roots.  The importance of local seafood, native Mexican vegetables, and maize reflects this.  So does the importance of tamales and soups.  The recipes that follow are selected to emphasize the indigenous tradition.
            Recados are not usually used in Tabasco.  Chile sauces are similar to the generic ones of southern Mexico; see the Yucatan chapter.  The sauces are various mixes of chopped or mashed chiles, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and so on, usually with lime juice and salt, sometimes with other add-ins.  A strongly lime-juiced salsa is recommended for the fish dishes.
Some ingredients special to Tabasco:
Garfish.  Garfish are, or were, abundant in the rivers and sloughs of Tabasco.  The gar is a "living fossil," and it has a satisfyingly archaic appearance--huge, scaly, toothy.  Large ones sometimes eat dogs crossing the rivers.  Gar were, in turn, a favorite prey of jaguars.  The gar's abundance and firm, rather coarse, white flesh made it a true "people's fish" in the old days, and even today.  It is often sold lightly roasted.  Originally, the fishermen seem to have roasted the fish lightly over open fires to make them keep longer.  Now, it's a matter of taste tradition. 
Cod or other firm white fish is a fine substitute.
Perejil de Tabasco.  In spite of the name, which means "parsley of Tabasco," this local herb resembles dandelion greens.  It is, in fact, a widespread Caribbean native plant, known elsewhere as culantro (Eryngium foetidum).  It bears no visual resemblance to parsley, but tastes rather like it.  Parsley makes a perfectly good substitute; tender young dandelion greens are still better.  You can now find culantro in many Caribbean markets.  (The word culantro, originally apparently an obscene pun on cilantro, leads to endless confusion between the two dissimilar herbs.  Cilantro is a totally different plant with a totally different taste.  Therefore, the present plant is "Tabasco parsley" herein.)
Pigua.  This is a huge, clawed, freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium carcinus. (It is similar to the marron of southwest Australia—if that's any help.)  It is unsurpassed among crustacea.  It is best in mixed soups.  Ordinary crayfish, small lobsters, or langostinos can substitute.
Pijije; "black-bellied whistling duck" in EnglishThis bird's Mexican name, pijije, imitates the duck's whistling cry.  This small wild duck abounds in Tabasco and is commonly sold in the market.  Unfortunately, it is being overhunted.  Moreover, it nests in holes in trees, and deforestation is stressing it more than hunting.  So use a regular commercial duckling instead.
            This bird is so popular in Tabasco and Veracruz that it has even been the subject of poems; one by the well-known Mexican writer José Juan Tablada is quite famous (Tablada 1998, orig. early 20th century).  Of course, romantic poetry is so endemic to south Mexico that almost everything has had some poem written to it, but the fame of Tablada's work shows how valued the pijije is.
Robalo:  As noted elsewhere, this term in southeast Mexico generally means a fat, oily fish of the sort that would be called a "snook" in Florida; as usual, various species are involved, ranging from mackerel types to mullet-like fish.  (Robalo elsewhere in Mexico covers a vast range of fish species.) Any white-fleshed fish will do, but mackerel are really too strong-flavored for South Mexican recipes.
BASICS
Pozol or "Chorote"
The staple food of much of Tabasco.  This recipe is given here for ethnographic interest, since few readers will be likely to prepare it.
2 lb. dried corn kernels
1/2 lb. cacao seeds, toasted and peeled
Cook the corn with lime (calcium oxide, not the citrus fruit) for a few minutes.  Try a grain to see if it peels easily by rubbing in the hands.  If not, continue cooking.  If so, take the corn and wash it several times, then return to flame and simmer.  This corn is known in most of Mexico as "nixtamal" (a Nahuatl word) but in Tabasco as "chegua." 
Grind the chegua.  Grind the chocolate very fine.  Add both to water.  Strain, using the strainer to beat the mix at the same time to make it foam up.  Cook, stirring constantly.  This can be flavored with achiote, vanilla, and the like.  
Various tree flowers are used in Tabasco and neighboring regions.
Tostones de Platano
Boil plantains, mash, add some flour to hold together.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Flatten into potato-chip-thin cakes and deep-fry.
This makes a great appetizer, used like tortilla chips to spoon up dips.
Totopos
A large corn cake.  Shape masa into a cake a foot across and a finger thick, and grill.  This is a staple food.
TAMALES AND RELATIVES
Bean Tamales with Chicharron and Hojasanta
   
1/2 lb. cooked black beans
l 1/2 lb. masa
1/2 lb. lard
Salt
2 oz. chicharron cut in small pieces
Hojasanta leaves
Banana leaves      
Mash the beans and mix with the masa, salt, lard and chicharron.  Chop up two or three of the hojasanta leaves and add in. 
Wrap small lumps in hojasanta leaves.  Wrap these, further, in banana leaves (you can get several in one banana leaf).  Steam for an hour.
These are perfectly good without the chicarron.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:17)
Chaya Dumpling Soup
1/2 lb. chaya leaves
2 oz. bacon
1 small onion
1 egg (or 2 egg whites, if watching cholesterol)
1 small bread rolls or 2 slices bread, soaked in milk or water
Grated cheese
1 tbsp tomato paste
Oil
Parsley, and other herbs as desired (thyme and oregano recommended)
Stock (chicken or meat)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
Chop the chaya and the onion.  Save some of the onion.  Fry the rest, with the chaya, till soft.
Grind up the bacon, bread, herbs, and the rest of the onion.  Mix with the egg, cheese, tomato paste and chaya-onion mix.  Season and form into balls.
Set the soup stock to boil.  Add the rice and chaya balls.  Warm up.  Or, even better to my taste, you can serve the soup over the rice.
Simpler, commoner variant:  just mix the chaya-onion mix with nixtamal or bread crumbs to make the dumplings.
                                          
Chaya Tamales
1 lb. masa
1/2 lb chaya, steamed and chopped
Grated cheese to taste
l-2 tbsp milk
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
5 eggs, hardboiled and chopped
Tomatoes, onion and garlic to taste
Pumpkin kernels to taste
More grated cheese to taste
                    
Combine the first five ingredients.  Make a tortilla (uncooked) and stuff it with the eggs.  Form into a tamale or dumpling shape.  Shallow-fry in a pan.
Separately make a sauce with the tomato, onion and garlic, all blended, and fry.
Put this sauce over the stuffed tortillas.  Top with the pumpkin kernels and grated cheese.        
            One can imagine various stuffings other than chopped eggs.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:16
Chipilín Tamales (simple folk form)
   
2 lb. masa
1 bunch chipilín
1/2 lb. lard
Salt
Banana leaves
Prepare the masa as in the other recipes.  Wash, chop and mix in the chipilín leaves.  Proceed as in other recipes, cooking the masa-chipilín mix first (stirring constantly), then making tamales and steaming them for an hour.
Chipilín Tamales (festive form)
1 lb. masa
1/2 lb. chipilín leaves
1/4 lb. lard
Banana leaves (or functional equivalent)
1 lb. pork
2 tomatoes
1 bunch chives
1 small onion
Cook the pork in a little water, chop, and fry with the tomato, chives and onions, finely chopped.
Take the pork stock, stir in the masa, chipilín leaves and lard, with salt to taste.  Cook over low heat.  When thick, stir in the fried ingredients.
Wrap pieces of this mixture in banana leaves.  Steam ca. 20 min. 
Serve with tomato sauce.               
Empanaditas de Chaya         
l lb. chaya leaves
1/2 lb. tomatoes
1 lb. onions
1 lb. masa
Oil
Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste
Cook the leaves and cut them in small pieces.
Cut up 1/4 lb. each of tomatoes and onions.
Fry the above in a little oil till onions are cooked soft.  Add some salt and pepper.
Make (but don't cook) small tortillas with the masa.  Put some of the vegetable mixture on each, fold it over, and seal.
Fry the resulting half-moons in a little oil.
Serve with the rest of the tomatoes and onions, cut up, dressed with the vinegar and the rest of the salt and pepper.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:14)
Garfish Tacos
1 roast garfish (or 1-2 lb. cod, baked till not quite done)
1/2 lb. tomatoes
1/2 lb. onions
Lime or bitter orange, cilantro and tabasco chile to taste. 
Tortillas
Flake the fish and fry with the chopped tomato and onion.  Frying here means stir-frying or sautéing, not battering and deep-frying as for the Baja California fish tacos that have recently become popular in the United States.
Make tacos, adding the other ingredients to taste.  (The above are the Tabasco traditional add-ins, but of course you can add whatever you find necessary in a fish taco.)                      
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:15)
Garfish Tamales, I
1 small roast garfish (2 lb.; or substitute 2 pounds of cod or similar fish)
1 onion
Vinegar
1/2 lb. tomatoes
1 chile güero (a hot yellow fresh chile), or other hot chile, chopped
1 large sprig of epazote
Salt to taste
4 1/2 lb. masa
2 lb. lard
3 bunches of banana leaves (or substitute)
Oil for frying              
To roast a gar in the true Tabasco manner, pass a stick through the mouth and out the cleaning slit, and roast over a fire.
Flake the fish.
Chop the onion; marinate in the vinegar.  Add the tomato, flaked fish, chile, and epazote sprig.  Season with salt and leave to marinate.
Mix the lard (melted) into the masa.  Add enough water to make a rather thin paste.
Cook this, stirring constantly, until a drop of it put on a banana leaf holds together and flows down the leaf.
Make small tamales: spread a tablespoon of masa on a leaf, add a tablespoon of the fish mix, roll up, tie or fold to seal.  (If lazy, make bigger tamales.)
Steam the tamales for an hour.
(Loosely based on Conaculta Oceano 2001c:17, but revised from field experience)
Garfish Tamales, II
1 medium-sized garfish
1 lb. tomatoes
2 bell peppers
2 green onions or bunches of chives
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 lb. masa
1/2 lb. lard
2 tbsp. achiote paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Leaves for wrapping
Tabasco chiles (if you can stand them; mild chiles if you can't)
Roast the garfish over charcoal or wood fire.  Skin and bone it.  Chop up a tomato, a bell pepper, and some of the green onion or chives.  Mix the salt, pepper, 1 tbsp. achiote and oregano with this.  Fry all, then add the fish and fry till all is integrated. 
Mix the masa with lard and the rest of the achiote, and some salt and soup stock, till it makes a soft, smooth paste. 
Carefully add in the fish mixture.  Wrap.
Steam for about two hours.  
Make a salsa by chopping together the rest of the tomato, onion, bell pepper, and green onion and the Tabasco chiles.                                                                
Pork mone
Mone is a type of steamed meatball.  This one is traditional in wakes for the dead in the area of Torno Largo.
1 lb. ground or well-chopped pork
1 large tomato
1 small onion        
1 mild chile
2 hojasanta leaves
Banana leaf
Salt to taste
Lard and water for cooking
Cut up the vegetables and one hojasanta leaf.  Mix with the meat and a little lard.
Lay out the other hojasanta leaf on the banana leaf.  Spread the mixture on it, roll up, and tie.
Put in water and simmer for an hour and a half.
Serve with roasted plantains.
Variants can be made using beef, variety meats, etc.  (Several other mone recipes are in Conaculta Oceano 2001c:18.)
Tamales in the Pot
1 lb. pork chops
1 chicken
1 tortilla
3 chiles
3 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes
1 onion
8 or 9 leaves epazote
Oregano, cumin seeds and achiote to taste
3 lb. masa
1 lb. lard
1 bell pepper
6 Tabasco peppers
1/2 lb. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)                                 
Salt
Cut the meat into 10 portions.  Boil, putting in the pork first, later the chicken, till almost done.
Brown the tortilla.  Seed and roast the chiles and soak in hot water.  Cut up the garlic, two tomatoes, and half an onion and fry them with the seasonings.  Add the tortilla and chiles and blend, using some of the broth. 
Cook the meats a bit more in this soup.
Mix the masa with the rest of the broth, the lard, and some salt.  Cook, stirring constantly.
Roast and peel the bell pepper, roast the rest of the onion, toast the Tabasco peppers, and blend with the rest of the tomatoes, for a salsa.
Toast and grind the pepitas, i.e. make sikil.
Take ten small pots.  Put in each a banana leaf.  Add a bit of the masa.  Put on this the meat mixture. 
Bake for 20 minutes. 
To serve, turn out on a plate, remove the leaf, and cover with the sauce and ground seeds.
SOUPS
Chaya and potato soup
2 lb. potatoes
50 chaya leaves
2 oz. butter
2 quarts water                                             
Salt to taste
Boil and peel the potatoes.  Separately, boil the chaya.
Liquefy all in blender, using the cooking water.
Put on heat, adding the butter and salt, till mixture boils.            
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:24)
Cowboys' Stew
This uses the dried and salted beef of Tabasco, which cowboys carry for rations while riding the range.
2 lb. tasajo (dried salt beef, like jerky but saltier)
2 plantains
1/4 small winter squash
10 chaya leaves
1 mild green chile
1/4 onion
1 tomato
Parsley, chives, salt to taste
Boil the meat till tender. 
Add the plantain (peeled and cut up), the squash (in pieces) and the chaya leaves (separately, and in that order, letting them cook a bit before adding the next item).
Roast the chile, onion and tomato.  Peel.
When all is cooked, add the chile, onion, tomato, parsley and chives.  Cook very briefly.                           
Those not riding the Tabasco range will want to soak the salt out of the meat first--or just substitute fresh meat.
Fish Soup with Hojasanta, I
In rich fish stock, cook a chunk of snook belly meat with one hojasanta leaf.
Tomatoes and Tabasco parsley make good additions.
Fish Soup with Hojasanta, II
"Mojarra" can be used for this, but it's better with belly meat or steak of snook.  Any good firm white-fleshed fish will do.
1 tomato
1 bell pepper
1 xkatik chile
3 lb. white fish (whole, or fillet with bone and skin)
4 tender hojasanta leaves
6 black peppercorns
Oregano, salt and oil to taste (the oil is optional)
Chop very fine, or blend, the tomato and peppers.  Fry for sofrito.  Add water, the fish and hojasanta leaves and the other ingredients.  Boil till fish is just done.
Fish Soup with Hojasanta, III
Ingredients as above, plus one more tomato and an onion
Chop and fry the tomatoes, onion and peppers.  Put with fish in 3 cups water.  Add the spices.  Cut up the leaves and add.
     This is especially recommended as a truly incomparable and extremely simple dish.  Almost any fish will do; a mixture of seafood is wonderful.  This is a recipe in which hojasanta can be readily replaced by finocchio, in which case you have something similar to Italo-Californian cioppino.
Fish Stew
2 lb. whole fish
3 cloves garlic
1 laurel leaf
3 carrots
3 small summer squash
1 tomato
6 small potatoes
1 chayote
1 small head cabbage
1 medium-sized onion
1 bunch cilantro
4 chaya leaves
2 ears sweet corn
Salt to taste                               
Oil
Fillet the fish.  Make a stock by cooking the heads and bones for 20 minutes in 8 cups of water, with salt to taste.  Strain.
Chop the garlic and fry in 2 tablespoons oil.  Mash the tomato (in a blender or the like) and add.
Add in the vegetables, cut into chunks except for the potatoes, which should be whole and unskinned.  Cook till getting soft.
Add the fish fillets; cook for ten more minutes.  Mix in the mashed garlic and tomato.
Serve with white rice.  On the side, serve chopped green chiles, cilantro and onion.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:22)
Garfish soup
l large garfish
1 bitter orange
2 plantains
1 tomato
1 onion
1 bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
Oregano, cilantro, achiote, salt and oil to taste
Scrub the fish with the bitter orange, squeezing the juice out as you do so.
Set the plantains (peeled and chunked) to boil.  When almost done, add the fish, the tomato (cut up and fried in the oil), and the other ingredients.  Simmer till fish is done.
Menudo
1/2 lb. pig's heart
1/2 lb. pig's spleen
1/2 lb. pork kidneys, trimmed and soaked
1/2 lb. pork liver
1/2 lb. pig's lung
Heart veins, to taste
1 1/4 onion
1 head garlic
Whole allspice to taste
1 lb. tomatoes
Achiote to taste
1 bell pepper
1 green chile
Oil for frying
Oregano to taste
1 clove (or more, to taste)
cinnamon stick
stock or water
Cook the pork ingredients with the 1/4 onion, half the garlic, and the allspice.
When the pork ingredients are well cooked, chop them finely.
Chop the whole onion and the rest of the vegetables.
Fry, with the meat, achiote, oregano, clove and cinnamon.
Add some of the soup (but this is a stew, not a soup like north-central Mexican menudo)
If the vegetables are blended and the resulting sauce fried in oil, then added to the rest and cooked with a couple of potatoes cut in quarters, the dish is "chanfaina," a name with Catalan antecedents.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:23)
Plantain Soup
3 plantains
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tomato
1 bell pepper
2 green onions (scallions)
10 peppercorns
Lard or oil
Salt
Chicken stock
1 small ranch cheese (a fresh, white, rather dry and salty cheese.  Look for queso ranchero at a Hispanic market, or substitute feta)
Boil the plantains and mash. 
Blend the vinegar, tomato, bell pepper, and onions, and fry.  Grind the peppercorns and add in.
Mix in the plantain and salt.  Fry the paste again. 
Mix in a bit of chicken stock to make a thick creamy texture. 
Cut up the cheese and top the soup with it.
Variant: By using a vegetable stock, this becomes one of the few really good vegetarian dishes in the Tabasco file.  (For a simple form of that version, see Conaculta Oceano 2001c:23.)
Seafood Soup
1/2 lb. tomatoes
1 onion
1/2 head garlic
1/2 lb. snook
1/2 lb. crabs in shell
1/2 lb. raw shrimp
1/2 lb. clams
1 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 quarts water
2 bay leaves (or more)
5 tbsp. olive oil
5 white peppercorns
Few capers and green olives
Blend the tomato, onion and garlic. Fry in the oil.
Add the water and boil.
Add the sea food and seasonings.  Cook till done.
When cooked, add in the capers and olives. 
Serve hot with quartered limes on the side.     
(It would be possible to shell the shrimp and crab first and make a stock with the shells.)
Shrimp Soup
In stock made by boiling many shrimps and shrimp shells, etc., cook shrimp, bits of chile, summer squash, and herbs (parsley, Tabasco parsley, cilantro, others to taste).
Snook Stew
4 large steaks of snook
4 garlic cloves
Oil or lard as necessary
1 small onion
1 bell pepper
1 tomato
2 hardboiled eggs (optional)
2 leaves of Tabasco parsley
1 tbsp. vinegar
Croutons (made from 8 slices of bread, cut up, toasted; optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil a quart and a half of water.  Add the fish; cook for five minutes, take it out, remove bones and skin. 
Cut up, and fry, the garlic, onion, bell pepper, and tomato. 
Add these to the water and boil.  Return the fish and seasonings to same and cook five more minutes.  Slice the eggs, add, cook five more minutes.  Serve with the croutons.
Soup for the Bridegroom
The Moors brought pilaf to Spain.  In Spanish it became known as a "sopa seca," literally "dry soup."  This is a Mexican development of the recipe.  The Moorish flavor--chicken with clove, cinnamon, pepper and so on--has been supplemented by characteristic Tabasco ingredients.
1 lb. rice
Breast meat, and (if you want) liver and gizzard, from 1 chicken
1 large tomato, cut up
1 bell pepper, cut up
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp. cilantro, cut up
1 tbsp. Tabasco parsley, cut up fine
1 clove
10 peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon
1 sprig oregano (or 1 tsp.)
1 tbsp. achiote paste
1 tbsp. vinegar
Stock
Lard or oil
Salt to taste
Wash and soak the rice.
Boil the other ingredients and chop fine. 
Fry all with the soaked (but uncooked) rice.  Add stock, to 1" above the level of the rice mix.  Simmer till rice is done.
SEAFOOD
Bobo
"Choco" dialect for "catfish."
1 large catfish
1 lime
2 leaves of hojasanta
4 leaves chaya
3 shallots
1 tomato
3 Tabasco chiles
1 garlic clove
Salt
Leaves of banana or the like, to wrap
Clean the catfish.  Rub with salt and lime.  Put on the hojasanta leaves.  Chop finely the chaya.  Blend the garlic, shallots, tomato and chiles.  Wrap all in the hojasanta leaves, rub with some lard, and wrap in the banana leaves.  Bake in moderate oven (350-375o) for half an hour.
Ceviche
2 lb. freshly caught fish (raw)
4 limes
1 tbsp salt
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1/4 cup cilantro
1 Serrano chile
1 tbsp olive oil
10 olives
2 avocados, sliced
Cut up the fish.  Cover with the lime juice and salt and let stand in a cool place for 4 or 5 hours.  Chop the vegetables finely.  Mix them and the other ingredients.
Ceviche is, of course, a universal Mexican delicacy; this is a Tabasco variant.  Any fresh sea food can be used (the more the better--a contrast in textures is desirable).  However, be absolutely certain the sea food is really fresh and from uncontaminated water.  Pollution has rendered Mexican seafood very dangerous when raw.  Sadly, Tabasco is one of the worst areas. 
Crayfish with chile ancho
4 crayfish
2 cups lime juice
5 chiles anchos
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
Oil for frying
Cut in half and clean the crayfish.  Marinate a while in one cup of lemon juice.
Lightly roast the chiles, clean, liquefy with the other cup of lemon juice and the seasonings.  Cover the crayfish with this and fry.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:28)
Drunken Fish      
1 tomato
2 Serrano chiles (remove seeds and membrane)
4 allspice berries, powdered
Oregano to taste
2 or more bay leaves
1 glass of sherry
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 stick butter
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
1 large snook or other fish (whole or in steaks)
Blend the vegetables.  Add the wine, vinegar, bay leaves and spices, and a little butter.  Marinate the fish in this for half an hour.  Then add the rest of the butter, and the fish, and simmer (or bake) in a covered dish till sauce is mostly absorbed.
Fish in Adobo
Any firm but delicate white-fleshed fish is good for this.
"Adobo" is cognate with French "daube."  It refers to a cooking process in which pieces of meat or fish are highly spiced and then simmered, or cooked in a casserole.
   
1 bream or similar fish, ca. 2-3 lb.
3 limes
1 onion
6 garlic cloves
10 cumin seeds
1 piece achiote (cube of paste or small bag of powder)
2 cloves
1/2 tsp oregano
8 peppercorns       
2 oz. vinegar 
1/2 cup oil
Clean the fish.  Slash diagonally.  Marinate for an hour in water with juice of one lime.  Then scrub the fish.  Blend the onion and garlic; add the achiote, and the spices, powdered.  Mix these with the oil and juice of the other 2 limes, and enough vinegar to make a paste.  Rub this over the fish.  Let stand one hour, then bake at 350o, basting with the sauce occasionally.    
              
Fish in Hojasanta Leaves
2 lb. seabass or similar fish
1 tomato
2 (or more) laurel leaves
1 onion
1 bell pepper
2 tsp. oil
Parsley leaves
Cilantro leaves
Tabasco parsley leaves
Chipilín leaves
Hojasanta leaves
Pepper, oregano and salt to taste
Rub the fish with the pepper, oregano and salt.  Add the tomato, bell pepper, and onion, all cut into strips.  Add the chipilín, chopped, and the oil.
Wrap in the hojasanta leaves.  Wrap the whole bundle in foil.   Bake at 350o till done (20-30 min.).
Fish in Paper (a simpler variant of the above)
For six persons:
6 pieces fish
6 cloves garlic
6 leaves of hojasanta
Salt and pepper to taste                                  
10 green chiles
1 further clove garlic
1 slice of onion
Crush the garlic and spread it on the fish. 
Roast the chiles and blend with the garlic clove and onion slice.  Briefly fry the mix in a little oil.  Spread this too on the fish.
Wrap each fillet in an hojasanta leaf, wrap the result in aluminum foil (or cooking paper), and bake at 350o.
Fish with Tabasco Parsley      
1 fish or fillet, ca. 2 lb.
1 lime
Oil
1 large bunch of Tabasco parsley                
3 peppercorns
1 garlic clove
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice of breaad
Salt and pepper to taste
Water to cook
Wash the fish and rub with lime, salt and pepper.  Cook in moderate oven, covering with the Tabasco parsley, pepper, garlic, cinnamon and moistened bread, blended, and fried in a little oil.
This dish is perfectly good with ordinary parsley.  Indeed, it is similar to dishes of Spain and other parts of Mexico that use ordinary parsley.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:31
Garfish in Chirmol  
If you can't get a garfish--or maybe even if you can--you might try this with any other firm-fleshed fish, whole or filleted.
1 garfish of ca. 3 lb.
3 thin tortillas
4 garlic cloves
1 large tomato
5 shallots
3 dried chiles
1 piece achiote (small cake or cube, or a small bag of achiote powder)
5 allspice berries
1/2 lb. masa
1/4 cup lard or oil
1 bunch epazote
A little oregano
Salt
Wash and clean the fish. 
Toast the chiles; remove seeds and membranes.  Toast and crush the tortillas.  Roast the tomato, onion and garlic.  Fry and mash these together.  Grind the chiles and spices, and mix in.  Simmer to thicken.  Add the fish and enough water to cover.  Thicken the soup with the masa, add the lard, epazote, and oregano, and cook.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:32)
Garfish in green sauce
1 garfish, ca. 3 lb.--or any other fish; this will work for anything, and almost any firm white-fleshed fish is better than a garfish unless you are a loyal Tabasqueño/
This recipe is a much-transformed descendent of a medieval Hispano-Moorish delicacy (see Introduction).  One wonders what the refined gourmets of old Grenada or Cordova would have made of a garfish—a living fossil biologically, and looks and tastes like it.
4 oz. chipilín leaves
4 oz. chaya leaves
2 oz. Tabasco chile leaves
1 bell pepper
1 purple onion
5 cloves garlic
8 tsp. lard or oil
water
1/2 lb. masa
Wash the gar and cut in pieces. 
Blanch and blend the leaves.  Take a slice off the onion and one from the bell pepper; blend the rest with the leaves.  Put in pot with the gar, add salt (and water if necessary), and cook over a medium fire.
Fry the slice of onion and the slice of bell pepper.  Add to the rest.
Stir in the masa.  Cook till the whole turns from green to yellow; this should indicate doneness.
Tabasco chile leaves are widely but uncommonly used as a vegetable in Mexico.  (I have also seen them as a vegetable in parts of East Asia.)
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:32)
Garfish Roasted
Possibly not the world's most sophisticated recipe, but one of the very commonest in use in Tabasco.
1 garfish
5 shallots or onions
20 Tabasco chiles
Salt
2 limes
Roast the gar over coals.  Make a salsa of the other ingredients.
Piguas roasted
2 lb. piguas, peeled
Juice of bitter orange
Salt, tabasco chiles, garlic, pepper.
Blend the condiments.  Paint the piguas with it; leave half an hour.  Cook in a covered pan or casserole dish till they become dry and golden.
Piguas with Garlic
See note on piguas, above.
4 large piguas
10 garlic cloves
10 ground peppercorns
2 limes
Salt to taste
Shell the piguas.  Mix the other ingredients and marinate the piguas half an hour.  Proceed as in previous recipe.  Cook very quickly.
This should be intensely garlicky.
Any large prawn or langostino will do as substitute. 
Shrimp in Escabeche
2 lb. fresh shrimp
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tomatillos or tomatoes
6 yellow chiles, chopped
1 large onion
10 black peppercorns
6 laurel leaves
6 allspice leaves (if you can't find any, use some ground allspice)
1/2 tbsp oregano
1 cup vinegar
10 garlic cloves
              
Peel the shrimp.  Fry in a bit of oil.  Add the other ingredients (except the vinegar), the spices ground, the leaves and vegetables chopped fine or less so according to taste.  Fry a bit more, then add the vinegar and boil till seasoned (a very brief time).
Shrimp in Green Sauce
That medieval green sauce again.
2 lb. shrimps
30 chaya leaves
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion
1 lb. masa
1/2 lb. lard
Leaves of chipilín
Salt to taste
Shell and clean the shrimp.
Blend the vegetables and cook with the shrimp.
Meanwhile, mix the masa with water to make a paste.  Mix into the shrimp.  Then mix in the lard and salt.  Cook.                   
Snook Casserole
   
Large snook (6 lb.)
1 laurel leaves
1 lime
Salt
2 onions
10 allspice berries
2 cloves
2 tomatoes
6 tbsp olive oil         
Parsley, 1 bunch, chopped
1 jalapeno chile, cut up
2 tbsp lard
Boil the fish briefly with one laurel leaf, half a lime, salt, onion, allspice and cloves.  Pour off and save the water.  Fry the fish in a little oil in the same dish.  In a separate pan, take 4 tsbp oil, a chopped onion, then add the tomato, roasted and mashed.  When fried, add chopped parsley and 2 tbsp of the fish broth.  Add the fish and chile.  Put in a pan greased with butter.  Breadcrumbs can be added on top.  Bake for 10 minutes.                                        
Snook steaks
2 lb. snook steaks
2 limes
1 1/2 tomatoes
2 sweet red peppers or, better, mild and flavorful red chiles
1 onion
Butter
Olive oil
Bottled chile pepper sauce (Mexican or Caribbean) if you can stand it
Allspice
Oil for frying
Season the steaks with lemon and salt.  Fry briefly in a little oil.                                                     
Slice the vegetables.  Fry in oil with chile sauce and ground allspice to taste.
Cover the steaks with this, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 7 minutes.                                
Snook Stew
2 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups tomato, blended
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch oregano
1 bunch marjoram
Salt and pepper
2 cups water
2 lb. snook
Blend the vegetables and herbs, and fry.  Add to the water.  When they have boiled five minutes, add the snook, cut in pieces.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes. 
              
Sole
1 sole, ca. 1 lb
3 tomatoes
1 onion
Cilantro
2 habanero chiles
Juice of 2 bitter oranges
Salt     
Clean the sole, rub with salt and pepper, and grill.  Make the other ingredients into a sauce by chopping finely and adding the salt and orange juice.
                                         
Stuffed Snook Fillet
Wrap a thin snook fillet around shrimp, octopus bits, parsley.  Cover with local white cheese, crumbled.  Mask with a sauce of onion, tomato and chile, chopped and fried.
MEAT
Barbecued Ribs a la Tabasco
2 lb. pork rib slab
2 bitter oranges
Salt to taste
4 oz. black pepper
1 head garlic
1 onion
1 clove (or more)
1 pinch oregano (or more)
Marinate the slab in the juice of the oranges, and salt, for 8 hours.
Then mix in the other ingredients and marinate overnight.
Bake in oven till done.
Traditionally a dish of Jalapa, Tabasco, served with thick corn cakes of green corn.                                    
(Similar recipe in Conaculta Oceano 2001c:40)
Chanchac
Tabasco variant of a traditional Maya dish (Ts'anchak; see Yucatan section) made with deer when available.
2 lb. stewing beef or venison
2 oz. chives
2 oz. cilantro
2 oz. Tabasco parsley (or ordinary parsley)
1 small onion
1 bell pepper or mild chile
2 garlic cloves
3-5 whole allspice berries (or more to taste)
Cut the meat into cubes, for soup, and boil till meat is tender.  Chop the vegetables.  Add these and the seasonings to the soup and cook till just done.  Eat with relish of chopped cilantro, onion and hot chile marinated in lime juice.
Chile pepper stuffed with meat
1 lb. lean pork
2 garlic cloves
6 cloves
2 onions
2 oz. oil
15 black peppercorns, ground
1 stick cinnamon
3 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
2 oz. raisins
5 egg whites, beaten to meringue
Ca. 5 bell peppers to stuff
1 bell pepper or mild large chile
1 large tomato
1/2 tsp oregano
Small bit of achiote
Boil the meat with one of the garlic cloves and the 6 cloves.  Take out, saving the water.  Mince the meat fine.  Chop the other garlic clove, and one onion, very fine and fry.  Add in the meat.  Grind the spices and add, along with the vinegar and sugar.  Mix these and the raisins into the meat. 
Roast, peel and seed the stuffing peppers.  Stuff them, roll in the egg white and a bit of flour, and fry. 
Meanwhile, make a soup of the water by blending up some onion, bell pepper, tomato and oregano, frying, adding to the water, and seasoning to taste with achiote or the like.  If desired, add masa to thicken.
Pour this sauce over the peppers and finish cooking (very briefly; just warm them up together).
If you don't want to fry these, you can treat these as they would be treated in the Near East: leave off the egg whites and bake these in a casserole dish.                                
(In this case, they are baked in the sauce.)  This is healthier and, to our taste, better. 
This is originally a Near Eastern dish, made with Mediterranean vegetables.  The Spanish brought it to Mexico and adapted it to local ingredients.  Variants of it are found all over Mexico.
           
Chirmol
                                               
Meat (any kind), marinated in bitter orange juice, garlic and salt 2 hours
5 dried ancho chiles
2 tomatoes
1 onion
1 piece achiote                                    
8 allspice kernels
10 black peppercorns
1 pinch oregano
5 toasted tortillas
6 tbsp lard
1 spring epazote
8 roasted garlic cloves
                                                                         
Briefly roast the meat over charcoal or flame.  Then add to water and boil.
Vein and seed the chiles.  Roast these, the tomato and the onion; peel.  Blend.  Fry these in the lard.  Grind up the other ingredients.  Add these and the boiling stock from the meat.  Add the epazote.  Simmer till somewhat thick.  Add the meat and serve.
            The Tabasco version of a Maya classic.  No doubt some form of it was central to feasts in Palenque and Yaxchilan in their glory days.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:43)
Chocolomo
"Choco lomo" is a "mestiza-Maya" name: choko means "hot" in Maya, while "lomo" is the Spanish for "loin roast."  This is basically a Yucatan dish (see Yucatan section), but has spread all over southeast Mexico.
2 lb. beef, cut up
1 beef heart, cut up
1 beef brain
1 beef kidney, prepared (see below)
2 garlic cloves
1 purple onion
1 bell pepper
20 black peppercorns
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tomato
For salsa:
1 bunch radishes
Cilantro
White onion
Bitter orange juice (or lime juice or vinegar)
Prepare the kidney: soak overnight in refrigerator; discard water; cut up the kidney, trimming off and discarding all membranes and white fibrous parts.
Boil the meats with the garlic, onion (quartered), bell pepper, tomato, and peppercorns.  When meat is close to done, add the oregano and vinegar.
Add the brains toward the very end of the cooking process, and simmer a while.  (If cooked too long or on too hot a fire, they fall apart.)
For the salsa: cut the ingredients fine.  Add the juice.
Kidneys are hard to get and rarely prepared now, in Mexico or the United States.  This is a pity; they are very good if prepared correctly. 
Green Sauce (for use on any boiled meat)
Cilantro
Chipilín (or alfalfa sprouts or pea tendrils)
Chile leaves
Tender hojasanta leaves
1 onion
2 tomatillos
1 bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
Meat
Masa to thicken
Use equal quantities of all the leaves--weight of each about equal to the weight of the onion.  Blend all the ingredients.  Add to the broth of whatever meat is being used.  Cook, stirring to prevent sticking and burning.  Cut up the meat and add, allowing it to boil once more.  Serve immediately, or it may lose the green color.
Tabasco or regular parsley can be added, or other green leaves that work well.
It is desirable to blanch the chipilin before blending up.
Meatballs
2 lb. beef
1 lb. pork
1 tomato
1 onion
l bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 eggs
4 leaves of Tabasco parsley
1 ball of masa (i.e. about half a cup)
1 piece of achiote (cube of paste, or small bag of powder)
1 tbsp viinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Grind the meats (or just use ground meat from the store) and mix with the garlic, pepper, salt and vinegar.  Leave a while.  Meanwhile, blend the tomato, onion, bell pepper, garlic and salt.  Fry this in lard or oil.  Add a pint of water to form a broth.  Add the achiote and masa.  When boiling, mix two raw eggs with the meat mixture and forming the meatballs.  Add these to the broth, with the parsley leaves (whole, separate).  Boil about half an hour.
                                                          
Planked Pork Leg
1 pork leg (fresh ham), ca. 6 lb.
1/2 lb. Spanish-style ham
1/4 lb. prunes, soaked and mashed
1/4 glass vinegar
1 pint red wine
1 tomato
1 onion
1 bell pepper
1/2 head garlic
10 black peppercorns
1 spring thyme (or a good deal of powdered thyme)
1 bay leaf
8 allspice berries, or 1 tsp allspice powder
Marjoram, salt, and cinnamon to taste
                 
Remove fat from the leg.  Chop or blend up the other ingredients and rub into the leg, sticking it with a fork to allow the spices to penetrate.  Bake.  Then sprinkle with sugar and roast in a hot fire.
            The original recipe called for sodium nitrate to preserve the pork in Tabasco's tropical climate.  No need for that now.
                                           
Tabasco Stew
1 lb. stewing beef
1 lb. beef ribs
1 lb. soup bones
1/2 head of garlic
1 bunch fresh oregano
1 tomato
1 bell pepper
1 onion
1 bunch cilantro
2 ears of sweet corn
2 chayotes
2 macal tubers
1 manioc tuber
1 summer squash
2 plantains
6 chaya leaves   
Salt
Cut the meat in pieces.  Put in plenty of water and boil.  Add salt and garlic.  Skim the broth.  When the meat is tender, chop and fry up the garlic, oregano, tomato, bell pepper and onion; peel and cut up the other vegetables; add all to the soup.  Cook till nearly done, then add the cilantro and simmer a bit longer.  Serve with white rice.
Potatoes are perfectly good in this in place of macal and manioc.
Tasajo with Chaya and Plantains                     
1 lb. tasajo (dried salted meat)
4 oz. chaya
2 plantains, peeled and chunked
3 tomatoes
1 bell pepper
1 small onion
1 bitter orange
Oil for frying
Water
Soak the meat in several changes of water.  Then boil it till it softens.
Separately boil the chaya and plantains.                               
Cut the meat finely, as for hash, and fry till browning.  Add the tomato, pepper and onion, all finely cut up, and then the chaya and plantain, also finely cut up.
Add the juice of the bitter orange.  Cook a little longer.  (The earlier in the process you add the orange juice, the less orange flavor it retains but the more it adds sourness to the whole.  Thus, you can vary the final product to taste.)
POULTRY
Black-bellied Whistling-duck
2 ducks
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 tomato
1 onion
1 Tabasco chile
10 peppercorns
1 cloves
Oregano
Salt to taste
1 cube achiote
Juice of 1 bitter orange
3 tbsp lard
Boil the ducks with salt and garlic till they become slightly tender.
Chop the vegetables and grind the spices.  In a casserole dish, heat the achiote till it softens, then add the orange juice.  Add the lard, fry the other ingredients.  Add the ducks; cover and simmer till they are golden.
As noted above, use ordinary duckling for this.
Polish chicken
A festival dish in Tabasco.  The connection with Poland seems pure fantasy, though a tenuous connection via the cabbage and tomato sauce may be implied.
2 chicken breasts
A quarter of a cabbage head, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, chopped
Oil
3 tomatoes
2 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 (or more) laurel leaf
1 sprig of thyme, or 1 tsp ground or crushed thyme
1 small can of chipotle chiles
1/2 onion, sliced
Salt to taste
Tomato sauce--just blend up a tomato and spice it
Fry the chicken, cabbage and garlic until lightly browned.
Blend the tomato, spices, and chipotle.  Add to the chicken.  Add the onion, and salt to taste.  Cook dry, then add the tomato puree and cook till done.  Serve with tortilla chips.
VEGETABLES
 
Chaya Salad
2 lb. chaya
1/4 onion, sliced
Salt, pepper and lime to taste.
Boil and cut up the chaya.  Mix with the other ingredients.
One can add other vegetables, and/or herbs.
Chaya Souffle
      
2 lb. chaya
3 eggs
3 tblsp. chopped onionz
2 oz. butter
Sour cream, salt and pepper to taste
2 cooked, chopped carrots for decoration (if wanted)
Boil the chaya and chop finely.  Fry the onion in the butter; add the chaya and fry it. 
Mix in the yolks of the eggs.  Beat the whites till stiff.  Mix in the fried ingredients, stirring carefully. 
Turn into a buttered mold and cook 20 min. in a bain-marie.
Top or decorate with sour cream and the chopped carrots or other colorful vegetables, as desired.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:48)
Chayote Stew
3 chayotes
1/2 onion
1 garlic clove
1 tomato
1 chile
Bunch of cilantro
Oil
Wash and peel the chayotes.  Cut in quarters.
Heat oil in a pan.  Add the onion, garlic and tomato.  Fry a while, then add the chayote.
Cover and cook till the chayote is done, then add the chopped chile and cilantro.
       
Chaya with Green Peppers
3 cups cooked chaya leaves, chopped fine
3 tbsp. chopped green peppers
1 tbsp. canned red pimento, chopped
3 tbsp. chopped onion
Salt, pepper and lime juice to taste
Fry the peppers, pimento and onion; add the chopped chaya and the seasonings.  Cook till hot.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:48)                                       
Chaya with Plantain
1 lb. pork rib roast or other cut, for boiling
Chaya to taste (1/2 to 1 lb.)
4 plantains
3 tomatoes
1/2 onion
Achiote to taste (1-2 tbsp. recommended)
Cook the pork.  When tender, add the chaya and plantain (cut up).
Cut up the onion and tomato and fry, adding in the achiote.  Then add to the meat and boil.  
A rib slab is good for this dish in south Mexico, where pork is meaty and not always tender.  Americans will probably want to save the rib slab for barbecue and use a tougher, more boiling-oriented cut here. 
Chaya with Squash
Special recognition for a superior vegetarian dish.
1 lb. chaya
1 lb. summer squash
1 chopped onion
3 chopped tomatoes
1 cup sweet corn kernels
Salt, pepper and chile to taste
Cook the chaya and chop.  Fry with the squash (cut up), onion, tomato and corn. 
Fry for about 20 minutes or till well cooked.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:48)
Chayote Torta
10 chayotes
5 eggs
2 oz. raisins
2 tbsp. butter                                                             
1 cup lard (this can be cut down, or even left out, for a low-fat version)
2 cups sugar
Salt to taste
Boil, peel and mash the chayotes.
Mix the other ingredients into this paste.
Bake in a greased mold at 350o for about 20 minutes (until browning on top).                                                                         
"Torta" is cognate with French "torte," but the Spanish word means several quite different things: sandwiches, omelets, and baked egg dishes like the following.  These egg dishes are of Moorish origin (compare the Persian kuku dishes). 
Guacamole a la Tabasco
2 avocados
4 hot chiles
Juice of 1 bitter orange or 2 limes
2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
1 onion, chopped fine
6 peppercorns, ground
Peel and slice the avocados.  Roast, peel, seed and mash the chiles.  Mix these with the bitter orange juice, and then mix in all the other ingredients.  Serve, garnished with raw onion rings and the like.
DESSERTS
Atole
A version of the standard Mexican corn drink.  Various atoles and pozoles are the staple food of much of Tabasco.
1 lb. masa
3 pints milk, scalded
3 pints water
Pinch of cinnamon or anise
Sugar to taste
Dissolve the masa in the water.  Strain through a colander.  Add the milk and spices.  Simmer, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.  If too thick, add water to dilute.
This can be made with chocolate also: dissolve one tablet of Tabasco chocolate in the atole as it cooks.
Variants can be made with cooked corn meal or sweet corn.    
Champurrado
1/2 lb. masa
3 pints water
1/2 lb. brown sugar
4 oz. chocolate
Make as for atole.
Chaya and Plantain Upside-Down Cake
       
1 1/2 cups butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 plantains      
8 pitted prunes
5 eggs
2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 can evaporated milk
Vanilla
3 cups cooked and chopped chaya
In a cake mold, put 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, slices of plantain, and prunes.
Beat a cup of butter with the rest of the sugar, mixing in the eggs one by one.
Mix the flour and baking powder.  Mix this into the above.  While mixing it in, add slowly the milk (mix the vanilla into the milk) and the chaya.
Turn the mix into the mold.
Bake at 325o for 1 hour.  Let stand till cool.  Turn out onto a plate.
If worried about cholesterol, you can use half as much butter, and 7-8 egg whites (discarding the yolks).  Do not, however, use margarine or oil instead of butter.  It won't work. 
Chocolate Made at Home
This recipe is offered for interest.  It's too much work for a result that is inevitably inferior to good commercial chocolate (unless you have industrial equipment).  It would almost be easier, and certainly more fun, to go to Tabasco and get chocolate there.  It is sold there in many forms, from raw seeds to pure bitter chocolate to the elaborate, spiced chocolate tablets described here.  I prefer the straight bitter chocolate. 
This recipe is a standard way to make the chocolate tablets typical of Tabasco.  However, for real chocolate tablets, you have to ferment the beans, and that is an expert technical job out of the reach of the ordinary cook.  You can get raw beans in Central American markets and try this yourself, roasting the beans like almonds in an oven, till they are just brown.  Raw beans are hard to work with--the line between too raw and too burnt is a fine one, and only an expert can roast them properly.  Also, they have a different taste from processed chocolate.
2 lb. cacao beans (seeds of the cacao tree)
1 lb. English-style biscuits (similar to nonsalty crackers or not-very-sweet cookies)
4 oz. almonds
1 1/2 lb. sugar
4 oz. cinnamon sticks
5 egg yolks
Heat a griddle.  On this, heat the cinnamon and then pulverize it.  Then toast the cacao beans until browned.  Peel and grind up.  Soak the almonds in hot water, peel, and toast till golden.
Blend the yolks, almonds, sugar and biscuits.
Mix all the above and pass through mill again.
Form into the characteristic Mexican chocolate tablets: flat disks 2" to 3" across and about 1/8" to 1/4" thick.
Break up one of these and mix with hot water, for cocoa.
Cocoyol fruits
The hard, sour fruits of a local palm tree.  They are only marginally edible even after this treatment, but they were often the only fruit around; they crop in the worst droughts, and were a famine staple in the old days.  They remain popular.  This product is thus of solely local appeal, but is added for ethnographic interest.
50 cocoyoles
4 cones of raw sugar (i.e. about 2 lb.)
Wash the cocoyoles a long time.  Cook in water.  Add the sugar and cook down to a thick syrup.
Grapefruit Conserve
6 lb. grapefruit
3 or more lb. sugar
Grate the peel, separating the white inner part.  Remove, but save, the membranes, seeds, etc., saving the pulp and juice.  Mix these latter with the sugar.
Boil these.  Put the white peel, membranes and seeds in a cheesecloth bag and cook with the rest until the syrup starts to thicken.  Then take out this bag and squeeze the juice out of it, back into the pot.
Add the peel and cook 10 minutes.
Put into jars, seal and label.
If properly canned (check that the seal is tight) this will last three months.  Of course, you can store it in the refrigerator for quite a long time without an airtight seal.
Guava ears
2 lb. lemon guavas (guayavas)
2 lb. sugar
Juice of 3 limes
3 fig leaves
4 cinnamon sticks
Cut the guavas in half and remove the seeds.  As this is done, put each guava half in the lime juice, to prevent browning and add flavor. 
Meanwhile, prepare a syrup: boil a quart of water with the cinnamon and fig leaves.  (These make the syrup thicker and stickier, but can be dispensed with.)  Then add the sugar.
When this syrup thickens, add the guava halves.  Cook down till syrup is thick, stirring frequently.
(Conaculta Oceano 2001c:52)
Monkey Ears
Same recipe as above, but using small wild papayas instead of guavas, and panela (Mexican brown sugar) instead of white sugar.  The fig leaves provide an enzyme that tenderizes the papayas.  The cinnamon can be omitted.  This is a very characteristic Tabasco sweet.  The wild papayas are sharp and sour, counteracting the sweetness of the syrup.    
Orange Cake
1 lb. cake flour
Grated peel (zest) from 1 orange
Zest of 1 lime
2 tsp baking powder 
10 oz. butter
6 oz. sugar
4 eggs + 4 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz orange juice
Orange marmelade
1 packet of confectioners powdered sugar          
Mix the flour, zests and baking powder. 
Separately, beat the butter and sugar until creamy.  Add in the whole eggs one by one. 
Beat in the flour, salt, and orange juice, adding alternately, little by little. 
Grease two cake molds and pour in the batter.  Bake 45 minutes at 350o.
Use the orange marmelade between the two layers. 
Top with meringue of the beaten egg whites and powdered sugar (or any other frosting desired). 
Tascalate
3 large tortillas, without salt
2 tablets of Tabasco chocolate
Cinamon stick
Water                        
Small amount of achiote powder or dissolved paste (optional, but usual)                 
Sugar or chile powder to taste
Toast the tortillas in low heat until very crisp but not brown.  (Beware--they go from moist to burned with almost no intermediate stage.  Watch them like a hawk.  In South Mexico they are often just sun-dried.)  Then crush them with the chocolate and cinnamon.  Add to water and sweeten to taste.  This can be drunk as is, but is better cooked a minute and cooled.                         
An easier variant, universal in Chiapas and southwest Mexico, uses toasted corn meal.
The combination of chocolate and chile is traditional, and I much prefer chile powder to sugar in this recipe.  Tascalate is a very refreshing drink, and making it too sweet ruins it.

 

Mayafood glossary

 

Achiote.  A hard red seed (Bixa orellana), ground up for both pigment and flavoring.  It has a distinctive spicy flavor.  Achiote powder is essential to Maya cuisine.  Maya k'iwi' or k'uxub.

 

Allspice.  A spice native to Mexico and the Caribbean.  It is the fruit of a rainforest tree, Pimenta dioica, which can become a forest giant in Yucatan.  The name derives from a early claim that it combined the flavors of the major Old World spices; this claim seems to have had more to do with promoting the New World than with reality.  The spice is, however, very flavorful, and is basic to Maya cuisine. 

 

Baalche':  Honey fermented in water, flavored and preserved from spoiling with the bark of the baalche' tree (Lonchocarpus spp.).  A traditional ritual drink, offered to the gods and spirits as well as the participants in the ritual.  Now often just sugar water with perhaps a trace of bark.

 

Beans.  Black beans dominate south Mexico, being especially important in Tabasco, Chiapas and Quintana Roo.  Beans were never very important in Yucatan, because they do not grow well, yielding only a few hundred pounds per hectare at best.  The soils are shallow, and bean roots need to go deeper into the soil than maize roots (though not so deep as squash).  Black beans (bu'ul) simply boiled over an open fire, with epazote and perhaps a chile added, are the universal accompaniment to almost every meal.   Small limas (iib) are also of very ancient lineage, but are much less popular in spite of their diversity and excellent flavor.  They come in many varieties, and the Maya have expended some creativity on naming these; one is the "tinamou egg" (shiny and brown like the egg of the tinamou, a common game bird), one the "peccary's eyelashes" (its broad, dramatic stripes resemble the long, thick whiskers that protect a peccary's eyes). 

 

Cacao.  In English, the tree that produces chocolate; chocolate is made from the seeds—cacao beans—of the cacao pods.  English cocoa is a transform of the word.  In Spanish, the word cacao includes chocolate itself.  The word itself is Maya (though probably borrowed from another language, at least a couple of millennia ago).  As a Maya word, it is spelled kakaw under current Maya spelling conventions.

 

Chanfaina.  A Spanish stew usually involving organ meats.

 

Charcuterie.  French term—and thus the international food term—for the making of processed meats, especially sausage, ham and bacon.

 

Chaya.  From Yucatec Maya chay.  A spinach-like leaf crop; the bush Cnidoscolus aconitifolius cv chayamansa, of the family Euphorbiaceae.  It is usually propagated by cuttings; my student Jeff Ross fouind that all the chaya plants in Yucatan are derived from a single plant!  (See Ross-Ibarra and Molina-Cruz 2002.)

 

Chayote.  A Mexican squash with a large single seed.  It is cooked in soup.

 

Chicosapote, chicozapote.  See Sapote.

 

Chile.  Nahuatl—and now universal—term for the plants and fruits of Capsicum spp.  See text.

 

Chocolate.  From Nahuatl chocolatl or chocolate (the "e" being pronounced), originally the drink made from cacao beans.  Atl is Nahuatl for "water."  The choco- root is variously explained; it may be Maya choko "hot."

 

Ciruela.  In standard Spanish, the plum (Prunus spp.), but in south Mexico the abal, a very different fruit, Spondias purpurea.  Large domestic varieties look like plums—soft reddish fruit around a large pit—but have a quite different taste.

 

Cocido.  Spanish for a very soupy stew, without the heavy spicing and thickening of mole.

 

Coriander.  A small plant of the carrot family, whose fruits ("seeds") and leaves are both extremely important flavorings in Mexico.  It comes from the Near East; the plant's uses spread with the Arabs, and with Moorish foodways.

 

Cumin.  Like coriander, a plant of the carrot family whose small dry fruits ("seeds") are a very important spice in Near Eastern cooking, and, thanks to Moorish Spain, in Mexican cooking as well.  An advantage of cumin is that it improves digestion of beans and reduces the notorious side effects of bean-eating; thus it is a very common addition to beans in Mexican food, though less in the south than in the rest of the country.

 

Epazote.  Nahuatl word—literally meaning "skunk herb"!—for a native Mexican flavorinig herb, Chenopodium (=Teloxys)  ambrosioides.  It is usually used to flavor beans; a sizable sprig is thrown into the bean pot, sometimes with the beans, often later.  The plant's seeds are a powerful killer of intestinal worms, and the plant is often used for this purpose, though an overdose can have dangerous consequences.  It appears to be a recent borrowing from central Mexico, since there is no Maya word for it.

 

Granadillo, maracuyá:  A large, excellent species of passion fruit, Passiflora sp.

 

Guanabana.  A large fruit similar to soursop and cherimoya.  Technically Annona muricata.

 

Hojasanta.  Piper auritum, a relative of black pepper, but native to tropical America.  Its huge leaf has a fennel-and-black-pepper taste, and is thus used to wrap fish and tamales to flavor them.  More recently it has been cut up and added to fish soup (exactly as fennel is in Mediterranean Europe).  Its use is almost confined to Maya Mexico and neighboring Central America.  It is acuya in Nahuatl (from acacoyotl, "coyote reed," a delightful name of uncertain origin), momo in Chol Maya, and mak'ol or mak'olam in Yucatec.  The Spanish means "holy leaf"; I have no idea where the holiness comes from.
Large fennel bulbs (finocchio), cut up, or just young leaves of fennel, make a very good substitute.

 

Maize.  Technical term for what Americans call "corn" (originally "Indian corn"), Zea mays.  From Arawak mais via Spanish maíz 

 

Mamey.  A large, soft fruit with a large seed, native to Mexico and central America.  Scientifically Pouteria mammosa.  The West Indian mamey, Mammea americana, is related and similar, but rarely grown in Mexico.  The fruit looks and tastes rather like candied yam (sweet potato).

 

Maya.  Originally the self-name (more correctly spelled Maayaj) of the people of the northern Yucatan Peninsula.  The name is related somehow to the ruined city of Mayapan.  The Spanish began a process that has continued since, of generalizing the name to refer to speakers of related languages.  Thus one now speaks of the Mayan language phylum, with 25-30 different languages.  The original Maayaj are now called the Yucatec Maya, Yucatec being a Spanish coinage (see text).

 

Mole.  In Mexico, a general term for soupy stews highly spiced with chiles.  From Nahuatl molli "sauce."  Guacamole is avocado sauce (avocadoes being aguacatl in Nahuatl).  Mole poblano is a very complex dish based on a standard Moroccan chicken stew but with added Mexican ingredients.  Oaxaca is famous for the kaleidoscopic variety of its moles, classically described as coming in "seven colors"—this phrase is another bit of Arab influence, since "seven colors" is a standard Middle Eastern metaphor for "all the colors of the rainbow" and thus "wondrous variety."  The word mole is, however, rare in the Maya world, where one is apt to hear of k'ol instead (this being the Yucatec Maya equivalent word).

 

Moors.  The Muslims of old Spain and North Africa.  "Morocco" is a derivative.  From Spanish moros, going back to Latin maurus and possibly to Arabic maghrib ("sunset," Morocco being the Far West of the Arab world).  The Arabs controlled varying parts of Spain from 711 to 1492.  Arab Spain was a major center of culture, including cuisine, and many dishes and foods were introduced to the west through it.  Andalusia was the cultural center, the cities of Grenada and Cordova being especially important. 

 

Nahuatl.  The language of the Native peoples of central Mexico, including the Aztecs and their neighbors.  Still spoken by hundreds of thousands of people, but declining.  It produced a huge and valuable literature, and became a common language of administration in the Spanish colonial empire, thus spreading Nahuatl words throughout the region.  Moreover, the Spanish borrowed Nahuatl words for local products unknown in Spain, from "coyote" to "chocolate."  Thus Nahuatl words are now common worldwide.  The Nahuatl nominative ending tl became te in Spanish; apparently some dialects of Nahuatl used te or t before the Spanish came, and the Spanish borrowed the te, finding it easier to pronounce.  Similarly, the other common nominative ending, li or lli, became le, as in tamale, Nahuatl tamalli.

 

Oregano.  General term for several species of flavoring herbs in the mint family.  They belong to the genera Origanum and Lippia.  The usual one of American grocery stores is Origanum vulgare, but the Maya one is Lippia dulcis.  They taste similar; any oregano will work, as far as the recipes are concerned. 

 

Paca.  A large rodent, Agouti paca, considered excellent eating.  Maya jaaleb.

 

Peccary.  Native wild piglike animals of the family Tayassuidae; jabalí in Spanish, whence "javelina" in English of the southwestern US.  Two species occur in Mayaland (see text).

 

Pib.  Maya for the earth oven known elsewhere as "pit barbecue" or "luau."

 

Platano.  The large, starchy banana varieties that have to be cooked to be edible are so called in Latin America.  English "plantain" is a corruption of this word, influenced by the utterly dissimilar English herb called "plantain."  Starchy bananas are much less commonly eaten in Mayaland than are sweet bananas.  Usually, the starchy ones go into mixed stews or are sliced and fried.  ("Plátano," in turn, means "sycamore" in Spain itself.  You can see why scientists use scientific names instead of popular ones.)
Platanos can be found in any large market today.

 

Saka', sak ja'.   The word Saka' is derived from sak ja', "white water," which name well describes the stuff.  Usually, in Mayaland, a term for various atoles—corn drinks made of toasted corn meal, fresh mashed corn, or corn meal or flour with other ingredients.  Extended to include pozol—masa (ground nixtamal) beaten up in water.  The masa dough is formed into balls, which are often carried to the fields for a lunch, and mixed with water as needed.  This is no gourmet fare.  Its Nahuatl (Aztec) name, pozol, was ironically modified by English pirates in the old days to "poor soul" (pronounced "po'soul"; see Esquemeling 1967, orig. 17th century).

 

Sapote.  From Nahuatl tzapotl "soft fruit."  Zapote in Spanish.  In south Mexico usually implies the chicozapote, Manilkara zapota (=Manilkara achras).  Central Mexico has many other, unrelated, sapotes, and outside Mexico the mamey is often called a sapote.

 

Sikil.  Whole squash seeds, dried and roasted, then ground to powder (shell and all—thin-shelled seeds are used).  A very important food—basic to traditional daily cooking in much of Mayaland, especially the Yucatec areas.  Now less common than formerly.  It is ritually important.  Designs of sikil are put into the pib-baked waj used in major ceremonies.  One elder ritualist says that the corn dough represents the body, the sikil the blood; this refers to the ancient gods making humans out of corn dough and then animating the dough images by shedding their divine blood thereon (Faust 1998).
Sikil is basic to many recipes, and substitutes are hard to find.  Pepitas—shelled roasted squash seeds—are available as snacks in most comprehensive United States markets, and can be ground for an acceptable substitute.  Ground sunflower seeds would do in a pinch, but would not be very authentic.  West African markets sometimes carry egusi, a usable African equivalent.

 

Waj.  Maya for maize bread of any kind.  Now usually implies tortillas, but tortillas are relatively new to Maya culture, having been acquired from central Mexico, possibly after the Spanish conquest.  The original waj were thick corn cakes baked in the pib, and such waj are still common.

 


MAYALAND CUISINE:
REFERENCES
Aguirre, Maria Ignacia.  1980. Prontuario de cocina para un diario regular.  Mérida: Comision Editorial de Yucatán.  (New edition of a book from 1832.)
Alcorn, Janis.  1984.  Huastec Mayan Ethnobotany.  Austin: University of Texas Press.
Álvarez del Toro, Miguel.  1985.  Así era Chiapas.  Tuxtla Gutierrez:  Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas.
---  1991.  Los mamíferos de Chiapas.  Tuxtla Gutierrez:  Govt. of Chiapas.
Anderson, E. N.  1996.  Ecologies of the Heart.  New York:  Oxford University Press.
---  2003.  Those Who Bring the Flowers.  Chetumal, Quintana Roo:  ECOSUR.

 

---  2005a.  Everyone Eats.  New York:  New York University Press.

 

---  2005b.  Political Ecology in a Yucatec Maya Community.  Tucson:  University of Arizona Press.

 

Anderson, E. N., and Felix Medina Tzuc. 2005.  Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico.  Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

 

Atran, Scott.  1993.  "Itza Maya Tropical Agroforestry."  Current Anthropology 34:633-700.

 

--- 1999a. "Itzaj Maya Folkbiological Taxonomy."  Medin and Atran 119-203.

 

--- 1999b.  "Managing the Maya Commons: The Value of Local Knowledge."  In V. Sandoval (ed.): Ethnoecology: Situated Knowledge/Located Lives.  Tucson: University of Arizona Press.  Pp. 190-214.

 

Atran, Scott, and Edilberto Ucan Ek.  1999.  "Classification of Useful Plants by the Northern Petén Maya."  In Reconstructing Ancient Maya Diet, Christine D. White (ed.).  Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Pp. 19-59.

 

Banrural.  Voluntariado Nacional.  Programa de Revalorizacion de la Comida Tradicional Mexicana.  1987.  Comida familiar en el Estado de Tabasco.  Mexico: Banrural.
--- 1988a.  Comida familiar en el Estado de Campeche.  Mexico: Banrural.
--- 1988b.  Comida familiar en el Estado de Chiapas.  Mexico: Banrural.
--- 1988c.  Comida familiar en el Estado de Quintana Roo.  Mexico: Banrural.
--- 1988d.  Comida familiar en el Estado de Yucatan.  Mexico: Banrural.
(Note:  These Banrural cookbooks have been reissued in more elaborate editions, by Conaculta [Mexico's natural cultural bureau], but I have not seen them.  The old ones are good enouigh for my purpose, i.e. finding versions of classic recipes to fine-tune on the basis of my own experience.)
Barrera Marin, Alfredo; Alfredo Barrera Vasquez; Rosa Maria Lopez Franco.  1976.  Nomenclatura Etnobotanica Maya.  Merida: CRY-INAH.

 

Bartolome, Miguel Alberto. 1988.  La Dinámica social de los Mayas de Yucatán:  Pasado y presente de la situación colonial.  Mexico City:  Instituto Nacional Indigenista.
Bayliss, Rick, with Deann Groen Bayless.  1987.  Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico.  New York: William Morrow and Co.
Benedict, F. G., and Morris Steggerda.  1936.  The Food of the Present-day Maya Indians of Yucatan.  Washington, DC:  Carnegie Institute of Washington, Publication 456, Contribution 18.

 

Berlin, Brent; Dennis Breedlove; Peter Raven.  1974.  Principles of Tzeltal Plant Classification.  New York:  Academic Press.
Bolens, Lucie.  1990.  La cuisine andalouse, un art de vivre, XIe-XIIIe siècle.
Breedlove, Dennis, and Robert Laughlin.  1993.   The Flowering of Man.  Washington: Smithsonian Institution.                        
Bricker, Victoria.  1981.  The Indian Christ, The Indian King: The Historical Substrate of Maya Myth.  Austin:  University of Texas Press.
Carney, Judith.  2001.  Black Rice.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press. 
Carrillo Lara, Silvia Luz.  1995.  Cocina Yucateca Tradicional.  2nd edn.   (Ciudad de) Mexico, Mexico: Diana.

 

Casas, Penelope.  1996.  Delicioso!  The Regional Cuisines of Spain.  New York:  Knopf.
Clendinnen, Inga.  1987.  Ambivalent Conquests.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.
Coe, Sophie.  1994.  America's First Cuisines.  Austin, TX:  University of Texas Press.
Coe, Sophie, and Michael Coe.  1996.  The True History of Chocolate.  New York:  Thames and Hudson.
Conaculta Oceano.  2000a.  La cocina familiar en el estado de Chiapas.  Mexico City:  Conaculta Oceano.
---  2000b.    La cocina familiar en el estado de Yucatán.  Mexico City:  Conaculta Oceano.
---  2001a.  La cocina familiar en el estado de Campeche.  Mexico City:  Conaculta Oceano.
---  2001b.  La cocina familiar en el estado de Quintana Roo.  Mexico City:  Conaculta Oceano.
---  2001c. La cocina familiar en el estado de Tabasco.  Mexico City:  Conaculta Oceano.
Crosby, Alfred. 1972.  The Columbian Exchange:  Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492.  Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press.                    
---1986.  Biological Imperialism.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press. 

 

Danforth, Marie Elaine.  1999.  "Coming Up Short:  Stature and Nutrition among the Ancient Maya of the Southern Lowlands."  White 103-118.

 

De Jong, Harriet.  1999.  The Land of Corn and Honey.  Haarlem, Neth:  Author.

 

Demarest, Arthur.  2004.  Ancient Maya:  The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.
Diaz Bolio, Jose.  1974.  La Chaya: Planta maravillosa.  Merida: author.
Dumond, Dan.  1997.  The Machete and the Cross.  Lincoln:  University of Nebraska Press.
Dunmire, William.  2004.  Gardens of New Spain:  How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America.  Austin:  University of Texas Press.
Duran, Diego.  1994.  The History of the Indies of New Spain.  Tr. Doris Heyden.  (Spanish original ca. 1581.)  Norman, OK:  University of Oklahoma Press.

 

Esquemeling, John.  1967.  The Buccaneers of America.  (Orig. 17th century.)  New York:  Dover.

 

Falconi Vera, Araceli.  n.d.  La Cocina de Araceli.  Villahermosa, Tabasco: Gobierno de Tabasco.

 

Farriss, Nancy.  1984.  Maya Society under Colonial Rule.  Princeton:  Princeton University Press.

 

Faust, Betty B.  1998.  Mexican Rural Development and the Plumed Serpent.  Westport, CT:  Bergin and Garvey.

 

Fedick, Scott (ed.).  1996.  The Managed Mosaic.  Salt Lake City:  University of Utah Press.

 

Flannery, K. V. (ed.).  1982.  Maya Subsistence; Studies in Memory of Dennis E. Puleston.  New York: Academic Press.
Flores de Vallado, Soledad.  1985.  Lo mejor de la cocina Yucateca.  Merida, Yucatan: Editorial Vallado.  2 v. 
Foster, George.  1993.  Hippocrates' Latin American Legacy:  Humoral Medicine in the New World.  New York:  Gordon and Breach.
Gerlach, Nancy, and Jeffrey Gerlach.  1994.  Foods of the Maya.  Freedom, CA: Crossing Press.

 

Gerli, E. Michael (ed.).  2003.  Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia.  London:  Routledge. 
Gill, Richardson.  2000.  The Great Maya Droughts.  Albuquerque, NM:  University of New Mexico Press.
Gitlitz, David M., and Linda Kay Davidson.  1999.  A Drizzle of Honey:  The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews.

 

Gómez-Poompa, Arturo; M. F. Allen; Scott L. Fedick; J. J. Jiménez-Osornio (eds.).  2003.  The Lowland Maya Area:  Three Millennia at the Human-Wildland Interface.  New York:  Haworth Press.

 

Haenn, Nora.  2006.  Fields of Power, Forests of Discontent:  Culture, Conservation and the State in Mexico. Tucson:  University of Arizona Press.

 

Hamman, Cherry.  1998.  Mayan Cooking: Recipes from the Sun Kingdoms of Mexico.  New York:  Hippocrene Books.

 

Harrison, P. D., and Turner, B L.  1978.  Pre-Hispanic Maya Agriculture.  Albuquerque, NM:  University of New Mexico Press.
Hernandez F. de Rodriguez, Concepcion.  n.d.  Cocina y Reposteria Practica.  Merida, Yucatan: author.  17th edn., rev.

 

Hervik, Peter.  1999.  Mayan People within and beyond Boundaries:  Social Categories and Lived Identity in Yucatán.  Amsterdam:  Harwood Academic Publishers.
Hovey, Kevin, and Dominique Rissolo.  1999.  "The Process and Sociocultural Significance of Gopher Trapping in a Modern Yucatec Maya Community."  Journal of Ethnobiology 19:261-276.
Hunn, Eugene.  1977.  Tzeltal Folk Zoology.  New York: Academic Press.
Inchaustegui, Carlos.  1985.  Chontales de Centla.  Villahermosa: Govt. of Tabasco.
---  1987.  Las Margenes del Tabasco Chontal.  Villahermosa:  Govt. of Tabasco.
Irigoyen Rosado, Renan (ed.).  1991.  Guisos y postres tradicionales de Yucatan.  Merida, Yucatan: Maldonado Editores.
Iturriaga, Jose N.  1993.  La Cultura del Antojito.  Mexico City: Diana.

 

Jones, Grant.  1989.  Maya Resistance to Spanish Rule.  Albuquerque:  University of New Mexico Press. 

 

--- 1998.  The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom.  Stanford:  Stanford University Press.

 

Katz, Solomon; M. Hediger; L. Valleroy.  1974.  "Tradiitional Maize Processing Techniques in the New World.":  Science 184:765-773.
         
Kennedy, Diana.  1989.  The Art of Mexican Cooking.  New York: Bantam.
--- 1972.  The Cuisines of Mexico.  New York: Harper and Row.
--- 1984.  Mexican Regional Cooking.  Cambridge: Harper and Row.

 

--- 1998.  My Mexico.  New York:  Clarkson Potter.
Kouki, Mohamed.  1995.  Cuisine et Patisserie Tunisiennes.  Tunis: Dar Ettourath Ettounsi. 

 

Landa, Fray Diego de.  1937.  Yucatan Before and After the Conquest.  Tr./ed. William Gates.  (Spanish original, 1566.)  Baltimore:  The Maya Society.

 

LeCount, Lisa.  2001.  "Like Water for Chocolate:  Feasting and Political Ritual among the Late Classic Maya at Xunantunich, Belize."  American Anthropologist 103:935-953. 

 

Lentz, David L.  1999.  "Plant Resources of the Ancient Maya: T he Paleoethnobotanical Evidence."  White 3-18.

 

Leon de Gutierrez, Luz.  1974.  El Libro de los Guisos de Chaya.  Merida: Jose Diaz Bolio.
Linck, Ernestine Sewell, and Joyce Gilbert Roach.  1989.  Eats:  A Folk History of Texas Foods.  Fort Worth:  Texas Christian University Press.

 

Long, Janet.  2000.  "Tomatoes."  Kiple and Ornelas 2000:351-358.
Love, Bruce.  1984.  Wahil Kol, a Yucatec Maya Agricultural Ceremony."  Estudios de Cultura Maya 15:251-301.
---  2004.  Maya Shamanism Today.  Lancaster, CA:  Labyrinthos.
Magennis, Ann L.  1999.  "Dietary Change of the Lowland Maya Site of Kichpanha, Belize."  White 133-150.
Mann, Vivian; Thomas Glick; Jerrilynn Dodds (eds.).  1992.  Convivencia:  Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain.  New York:  George Braziller with The Jewish Museum.
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Miller, Loretta Scott.  2003.  A Yucatan Kitchen: Regional Recipes from Mexico's Mundo Maya.  Gretna, LA:  Pelican.
Montes de Oca de Castro, Maria Luisa.  1990.  Ayer y hoy en la cocina yucateca.  Merida, Yucatan: author.  4th edn., rev.

 

Morales Rodríguez, María Teresa, and Juana Rosa Martínez García.  1999.  La cocina tradicional cordobesa.  Córdoba:  Ateneo de Córdoba.
Morton, Lyman.  1996.  Yucatán Cook Book:  Recipes and Tales.  Santa Fe:  Red Crane Books.
Murillo Cisneros, Esperanza.  1992.  Tapachula de mis recuerdos.  Tuxtla Gutierrez: Govt. of Chiapas.
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Painter, M., and William Durham (eds.).  1995.  The Social Causes of Environmental Destruction in Latin America.  Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press.
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--- 1995.  La cocina y los alimentos mayas: un analisis cultural.  Presentation, Third International Maya Congress, Chetumal.
Pilcher, Jeffrey.  1998.  Que vivan los tamales!  Food and the Making of Mexican Identity.  UNM.
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Reed, Nelson.  1964.  The Caste War of Yucatan.  Stanford:  Stanford University Press.

 

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Restall, Matthew.  1998.  Maya Conquistador.  Boston: Beacon.

 

Reyes Gavilán y Moenck, María Antonieta.  1942.  Delcias de la Mesa:  Manual de Cocina y Reposteria.  8th edn.  Havana:  Cultural. 

 

Rodinson, Maxime; A. J. Arberry; Charles Perry.  2001.  Medieval Arab Cookery.  Blackawton, Totnes, England:  Prospect Books.

 

Rodríguez Lazcano, Catalina.  1991.  Hanal Pixan, ceremonia Maya de los muertos.  Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico:  Museo Regional "El Obispado."

 

Ross-Ibarra, Jeffrey, and Alvaro Molina-Cruz.  2002.  "The Ethnobotany of Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius ssp. Aconitifolius Breckon):  A Nutritious Maya Vegetable."  Economic Botany 56:350-365.
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