93.2 F
Thursday, May 26, 2022

Honoring ancestors at cenote dinner party under the stars

Latest headlines

New study reveals the stunning cost of corruption in Yucatán

According to a new study by the INEGI, corruption in Yucatán costs the state 9.5 billion pesos a year, the highest in the entire country. 

Yucatán boosts its own unique brand in Europe

Authorities from Yucatán announced a new campaign to promote the state as a destination for European travelers. 

After more than 2 months, why are Mérida’s most iconic monuments still covered in graffiti?

Since the protests held on International Women’s Day back in early March, several of Mérida’s historic monuments remain covered in graffiti. 

Scientists warn some types of sargassum could impact on human health

Large amounts of sargassum are now washing a shore in locations previously relatively untouched by the algae, such as the theme...
Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.

A waiter plates one course at a cenote dinner at Yaxbacaltún. Photo: Lee Steele

Homún, Yucatán — Yucatecan writer Will Rodriguez, author of the Gran Libro de la Cocina Yucateca revived ancient dishes in an elegant subterranean dinner party for 12.

The evening, called “La Noche de los Mayas,” was an elegant affair in a rustic cenote.

His guests were bused an hour outside Mérida, down highways, village thoroughfares, and finally, along a bumpy, unlit path at the remote ecotourism lodge and the Yaxbacaltún cenote.

A dozen guests gather around the table at cenote Yaxbacaltún. Photo: Will Rodriguez

Under a clear night sky filled with stars not visible in the city, we descended a long staircase, reaching a platform, surrounded by clear, black water and the cenote’s romantically lit walls. The temperature dropped at least 15 degrees. This is clearly a sacred space.

A couple of guests dipped in the water, but most of us remained on the platform, marveling at the makeshift kitchen under the stairs and the sight of a small squadron of formal waiters — actually, culinary students from La Escuela Internacional de Chefs in Mérida – surrounding a dining table.

The Yaxbacaltún cenote stairs in daytime, when the platform is used for recreation. We descended two people at a time at night for an elegant dinner party. Photo: Facebook

The menu was strictly Mayan, not Mestizo, so that meant no sour orange, onion, garlic, cilantro or any other ingredients that were introduced by Europeans.

After a brief, solemn ceremony in which a woman named Meche asked a Mayan deity permission to dine here, Mary in the cooking area let the courses roll out, each with an introduction in Spanish and English by our host.

The menu consisted of Ts’ootobilchaay yéetel u je ‘beech’, xpéelonil táamali ‘yéetel u’ ‘ma’ak’ulan (small tamales with quail eggs and new beans with hoja santa herbs); U bak ‘the box kay and jejeláas janabe’en ich che’ob  (black fish fillet with fresh vegetable salad); Óonsikli kéej (farm deer with pumpkinseed sauce) with hand-made tortillas; and Ch’ujkil ts’íim, ta’uch yéetel iswaaj (sweet cassava and black zapote on fine corn cracker).

Our host, Will Rodriguez, explains each dinner course. Photo: Lee Steele

Each course was thoughtfully prepared and packed with savory flavors not to be found in the Centro Histórico or any other tourist centers. Our dinner companions clearly enjoyed their meals as well.

Days later, we asked Will some questions about the evening.

How was the idea ​​of this dinner born?

The idea of thematic dinners arises from the desire to offer the public gastronomic experiences based on history, literature and cinematography, in such a way that special dishes can be enjoyed in certain environments.

Tell us a little more about pre-Hispanic cuisine.

Pre-Hispanic gastronomy is wide and varied. Although we don’t have a detailed anthropological record focused on pre-Columbian food, much of what we know or interpret from that period is thanks to the traditions and culinary customs of the Mayans today.

Dante published Will Rodriguez’ book on Yucatecan cuisine in 2015.

Also tell me a little about the cenote and how the idea of ​​dinners in that magical place originated.

The idea of ​​pre-Hispanic dinners arose from a visit I made to the Yaxbacaltún cenote, which I had visited several times. Until then it had not occurred to me to relate it to a gastronomic project, but in recent months I have dedicated myself to developing thematic concepts. When I look at the interior terrace at this cenote I knew it would be the ideal place to offer Mayan dinners. That’s why I titled the project “La Noche de los Mayas,” in honor of the flavors of our ancestors.

How can anyone request a dinner or themed event like this?

Information about these events is available in my blog.

- Advertisement -

Subscribe Now!

More articles

Mérida, but not the Caribbean resorts, named in Airbnb survey

Mérida Yucatán is one of the oldest cities on the American continent and boasts the oldest cathedral on the continent’s mainland....

Yucatán goes from 0 to 78 daily COVID cases in 6 weeks

The Yucatán health ministry reported 78 new COVID infections, the highest number of daily new cases since March.

Pig farm accused of hiding cenotes and filling them in with cement

A pig farm in the municipality of Homún is being accused of filling in and hiding two cenotes from environmental authorities. 

New augmented reality app tells the story of Mérida’s iconic corner plaques

Mérida´s municipal government is launching a new mobile phone application to tell the story of the city’s iconic Centro corner plaques.

Tortas in the Park: Family carries on the tradition for 63 years 

Taqueria Don Beto in Parque Las Américas. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht Strolling through charming Parque de...

Kankí, the Maya city where the stone eyes of ancient gods burn as hot as the sun

Kankí may be only 10 miles or so from the Mérida-Campeche highway, but feels a world away.

La Plancha park project moves forward with a huge budget

Government officials announced an agreement to make the La Plancha land 100% parkland. Photo: Contributed The park that...

Court sets limits for ‘racist’ immigration checkpoints in Mexico

Mexican soldiers review documents at a Zacatecas checkpoint in March. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP via Getty Images

You won’t miss the meat or dairy in these recipes from Yucatán

Vegan, vegetarian and plant-based lifestyles are easy to enjoy, despite living in meat-centric Yucatán.  Now that we’ve listed our...

Yucatán COVID patient 1st to die in 49 days

Coronavirus cases rose steadily in a week that ended with Yucatán's first COVID fatality since April 2. A...