Friday, July 10, 2009

Cozumel Comida



Mexican cuisine is rich and varied enough to warrant extensive culinary tours. And I'm not talking about tacos and tequila. Each region boasts its own dishes, spices and drinks. The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cozumel is located, displays a particularly diverse cuisine due to centuries of isolation from the mainland and influences from the Caribbean and Europe. I conducted some research on Cozumel cuisine on my plane trip down. Alex, my seat mate, supplied me with a list of all the essential Cozumel dishes including salbutes, pescado tikinxic and cilaquiles con pollo. More on those later, my first sample of the seafood-focused cuisine was heavenly grilled grouper with coconut and mango sauce with fried plantains pictured above. It was so delicious that I received Park Royal Hotel's very first doggie bag so that I enjoyed the rest for breakfast.



A tempting array of appetizer's at Park Royal's Mexican restaurant included salbutes, a popular street food of half-fried corn tortillas topped with chicken, cheese and pickled onions and cheese empanadas.



I'm a tortilla snob. Chicago has tons of authentic Mexican restaurants and I also have a Mexican sister-in-law who regularly whips up the real thing. So I never see any good reason to touch those awful packaged tortillas. Homemade tortillas and chips supply so much more flavor and texture. I almost died when this basket of fried corn tortillas was served at Punta Morena restaurant. Covered in habernero salsa and guacamole, these chips made me want to stay in Cozumel forever.



Bebidas or drinks offer an important counterpoint to meals. I didn't see much Margarita gulping or tequila swigging with the locals. Rum and Coke or Cubas, Micheladas or dark Yucatan beer mixed with lemon, soy sauce, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce and my personal fave, Jarritos soda flavored with tamarind, seemed to be the local drink choices.



The region's most famous beverage is Xtabentun, a Mayan honey liqueur flavored with anise and traces of licorice.



At Punta Morena restaurant, the Xtabentun was served with pineapple juice. The taste was deceptively light and sweet, it reminded me a lot of Tej the Ethiopian honey wine.



During my trip I also sampled the pescado tikinxic, another flavorful Mayan specialty that features fish rubbed with achiote, a spice made from the annatto plant and baked in banana leaves. I also tried the chilaquiles con pollo, a dish of fried tortilla strips topped with chicken, cream and a red tomato sauce, along with Mexican turnip greens with tomatoes and peppers, for breakfast. I loved every morsel. But of course, one of my favorite taste sensations was every night when I returned to my room to discover a plate of decadent desserts waiting for me. This array of chocolate strawberries and a pear tart made me swoon before going off to a very sweet sleep.

12 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Why is it I'm usually hungry after visiting your blog?

A Cuban In London said...

Off to the kitchen! I had my tea about seven o' clock. Many thanks for the photos and the post. Fantastic food.

Greetings from London.

marina villatoro said...

can you believe i hung out in mexico for more than 3 months while I was a vegan!!!! I missed out on all their yummies:) I keep telling my husband that we have to go there just so I can eat real Mexican food!

Fly Girl said...

Jean Luc, sorry, I forgot to include my usual warning about eating before reading!

Cubano, I hope the dishes have inspired your creativity.

Marina, Oh no! You must swing back some time and sample all the goodies you missed.

Amanda said...

Oh, so so yummy looking. I miss Mexican food!

Fly Girl said...

Amanda, I hope you can find enough ingredients to rustle up something close in Switzerland!

Ebony Intuition said...

Dido with Jean, I always want to make some of these meals after coming on your blog.. lol

They look so good.

Fly Girl said...

Ebony, I need to write a hungry-post warning for all my food descriptions, lol!

Heather Dugan ("Footsteps") said...

Oh, I miss the food!! That's one of the best things about visiting Mexico.

Fly Girl said...

Heather, I totally agree!

Gem said...

I thorougly enjoyed this post! I was just thinking I wonder what I could eat in Mexico while vegan and saw Marina's comment.

jen laceda said...

Um-um, this post is making me super hungry!!