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Cochinita pibil named 2021 ‘best dish’ by Taste Atlas

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Yucatecos are very proud of their cuisine, but extremely picky about quality when it comes to their favorites. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gract

Yucatán’s famed cochinita pibil has been named 2021’s best dish in the world by the website Taste Atlas.

The verdict came as the result of a web poll with over 100,000 respondents from around the world. 

Coming in at number two was Brazil’s famous picañana, with Poland’s pierogi ruskie coming in third. 

The news of cochinita pibil taking the top spot was celebrated across Yucatán on social media and by politicians wanting to score points with the public.

The victory however has not been without controversy, as the Taste Atlas notes that the best place to enjoy cochinita pibil is at a restaurant called El Turix in Mexico City, which Yucatecos took to be culinary blasphemy of the highest order.

Screen capture from TasteAtlas.com.

“Mexico City? Are you kidding me? You can’t get halfway decent cochinita pibil there to save your life. Just look at the photos they chose,” said Rene Riviera, a Mérida resident writing on Facebook. 

Cohcinita pibil is a slow-roasted pork dish that can be enjoyed any time of day but is particularly popular at breakfast, especially on Sundays in the form of tacos or tortas (sandwiches) made with Yucatecan baguettes known as pan Frances.

Earlier: Yucatán recaptures record for largest cochinita pibil

The roots of cochinita pibil date to the classical Maya period, when the dish was prepared using wild peccary instead of domesticated pork. But just as in antiquity, today the dish is slow-cooked in banana leaves and spices.

The dish has also gained much popularity internationally thanks to its depiction in several Hollywood films and cooking shows, including Netflix’s taco chronicles. 

Arguments about where to get the best cochinita are common among Yucatecos, with answers ranging from tiny stalls on sidewalks or highways to well-established restaurants. But one thing is for sure, you will never hear a Yucateco say that the best cochinita is found outside of the state. 

Last month, Míriam Peraza Rivero, of the Manjar Blanco, also known as the Queen of Cochinita, was awarded the Jaguar del Turismo gastronomic award by Mexico’s Tourism Association. Míriam also holds the Guinness World Record for the largest ever cochinita pibil, coming in at a whopping 4.5 tons.

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