Aprendiendo Hacer Panuchos en Chichen Itza

A plate of delights at Chichen Itza (clockwise from top left): panucho, cochinita pibil, chicken tamale, and kibi.
A plate of delights at Chichen Itza (clockwise from top left): panucho, cochinita pibil, chicken tamale, and kibi. Chichen Itza’s famed habanero sauce is a potential condiment. / D. Solomon

Looking for an introduction to Yucatecan cuisine? Try a panucho. Panuchos begin as traditional corn tortillas, but then are grilled to form crispy exteriors that shelter tender black beans that have been nudged inside. They are topped with shredded turkey, pickled onions, and avocado. The dish is a staple at Chichen Itza — not the monumental Mayan pyramids of Mexico, but a quick-serve restaurant tucked inside Mercado la Paloma in South L.A. near USC.

Chef-owner Gilberto Cetina says his 12-year-old eatery is the only restaurant in L.A. with a dedicated Yucatecan menu. That’s a big deal, as Yucatecan cuisine is notably distinct from other Mexican styles. While most Mexican food blends indigenous and Spanish influences, the Yucatecan style blends mixes Mayan concepts with a diversity of culinary traditions. After all, the Yucatan has welcomed immigrants from Spain, the Netherlands, France, Lebanon, and the Caribbean for centuries, says Centina. Sigue leyendo “Aprendiendo Hacer Panuchos en Chichen Itza”