A Tasty Way to See Mexico with Chef Mario Canul

Head Chef and Instructor at Los Dos Cooking School, Mario Canul joins me on the podcast to share his favorite places to eat in Mexico, what makes the Yucatan version of pico de gallo so amazing, and information about David Sterling’s new cookbook.

I have taken cooking classes at Los Dos Cooking School in Mérida several times. I am always amazed at how wonderful food is, and I love learning traditional Mayan recipes. Mario has roots in the Mayan community. In 2003, when David Sterling conceived the idea for the Los Dos cooking school, he passed all of his knowledge to Mario. In fact, one of the reasons Mario still teaches today, is because it honors David and the culinary education he shared.

David’s book, Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, is considered the bible of Yucatan cuisine. Mario was traveling with David to gather information for his second book, which is 5 years in the making. The second book includes small magical towns outside of the Yucatan, as David was interested in preserving all of the cooking histories from as many Mexican States as possible.

During their travels, two pueblos stood out for their amazing food the Oaxaca town: Teotitlán del Valle and Michoacán. In Oaxaca, there are tortillas in every color of the rainbow, due to the many varieties of corn. Mario still fondly recalls a pumpkin flower soup made by chef Abigail Mendoza. Michoacán also has amazing cuisine, with a distinct mix of sweet, spicy and seafood.

While these places offer savory tastes, Mario believes Yucatan cuisine is different from anywhere else in Mexico.

Mario describes the many specialty foods of the area, including the pico de gallo. He says the sauce made in Central Mexico is a common sauce made from Roma tomatoes, white onions, cilantro, lime and serrano chili but the Yucatan version adds habanero chili and sour orange. The taste is so distinct it has a different name, which is a Mayan word for dog nose, because after you eat it your nose runs.

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Mario’s Special Places:

  • Hacienda TeyaA beautifully refurbished hacienda, which serves quality, traditional Yucatan cuisine.
  • ManjarblancoFor fantastic food.
  • TaqueríaWayan’eThey started with 2 recipes, and now have 25 different recipes.
  • HunucmáThe best cochinita in the world. For the best flavor, they slow cook cochinita underground, with a specific type of wood.
  • TemozonFor the best smoked salty or spicy meat. It is THE spot to have lunch outside of Valladolid.

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