With just one bite, food can transport us to a delicious time and place.
Three Mexican filmmakers are documenting the diversity and richness of Yucatecan food, history, and culture.
Here are three short films, as published in the Yucatan Times, to whet your appetite, stimulate your senses, and give you a delicious taste of this beautiful and magical region.
El Tikin Xiik ‘Asado (2018), directed by Miguel Ventura Herrera and produced by Cine Janal, is a comedy about a family meal and birthday party involving three generations and told through a series of anecdotes. The film has been compared to Tim Burton’s Big Fish (2003).
Herrera is an award-winning filmmaker from Merida. Inspired by the films of American director Steven Spielberg and Mayan traditions, Herrera creates movies that reflect his identity, heritage, and culture.
El Tikin Xiik ‘Asado is the third in a series of films that aim to capture the essence of Yucatecan cuisine as found in the homes and restaurants throughout the Riviera Maya. Tikin xik, for example, is a fish dish commonly found in Isla Mujeres and Holbox.
Often made with grouper, though other types of fish can be used, the dish is prepared with red wine dissolved with sour orange juice and left to marinade for three hours. Chili strips, green peppers, tomato, and red onions are placed on top. The fish is bathed in beer, olive oil, and salt, wrapped in a banana leaf, and roasted over charcoal until the meat is soft and crumbles easily.
Vuelve a la Vida (2010) directed by Carlos Hagerman tells the love story between a poor, Mexican scuba diver and a top American model. Using a legendary shark hunt in the late 1970s as an anchor, we discover how the revelations of the past can affect the present, collective memory, and the right way to prepare fish.
Hagerman was born in Mexico City and received his MFA in film at NYU as a Fulbright scholar. He worked for eight years as a director for Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s production company Zeta Films, which includes Amores Perros and Babel.
El Pib (2017) interweaves the emotional story of a young, Mayan girl, cochinita pibil and Day of the Dead. If you liked Coco, El Pib is sure to please.
The movie is filmed in Mayan with English subtitles. Within seconds, the viewer is transported into the lush jungle of the Riviera Maya.
El Pib takes its name from “cochinita pibil,” slow-roasted pork marinated in chili paste.
“Cochinita” means “baby pig.” True cochinita pibil is made with suckling pig. But most modern recipes use pork shoulder or pork loin as a substitute. Juice from bitter oranges, lemons, and limes marinate the meat.
“Pibil” refers to the cooking method (from the Mayan word p’ib, meaning “buried”) of wrapping the meat in banana lives and cooked in a pit oven. Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to roast it. Achiote gives the dish its characteristic orange-reddish color and adds to the flavor.
Cochinita pibil is enjoyed with corn tortillas, red pickled onions, refried black beans, and habanero chiles or as a taco filling.
Hungry for more information about traditional Mexican food and restaurants? Check out our foodie vacations and blog, filled with restaurant reviews written by locals. Are you a Loco Gringo guest visiting the Riviera Maya and want to know what to eat tonight? Contact Paulina, our concierge, for recommendations and reservations.