Five Mayan Dishes To Try Before The Long-Form Calendar Resets
3. Poc chuc with chayote shoots
|Flickr user jenniferwoodardmaderazo|
While the chayote (or mirliton, choko, etc.) is known in the United States, there is nowhere north of Miami where it's consistently warm enough for the plants to send up tender young stalks in the winter; they look like mutant asparagus but taste like squash and are normally served boiled or in soup.
4. Tikin xic
Tikin xic (the second word is pronounced "sheek") means "dry fish" and refers to fish, normally a grouper or other white or pink fish, which is rubbed with a marinade made of bright red achiote, sour orange juice, salt (or seawater), then rolled inside banana leaves and cooked in a pit. As with many Mayan dishes, it goes well with just a dab of xni pec ("dog's snout", the hottest non-novelty salsa in use in Mexico)
5. Agua de chia, chocolate and xtabentún
|Flickr user garyjwood|
|Xtabentún on ice|
The Mayans were the first to grow the cacao for food; they developed the savory, coffee-like drink that was the first chocolate; made with bitter chocolate, canela, and chile powder, it's not exactly Hershey's here.
For the after-dinner digestif, there's xtabentún, an anise-flavored, honey-sweetened liqueur based on rum. It didn't start that way, of course, but the invading Spaniards didn't develop a taste for fermented corn alcohol with tree bark; their alterations changed the drink into the world's most interesting variation of absinthe.
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