We get mixed messages over whether or not Mérida is a “foodie destination.” The most compelling dishes seem to be outside the city, and not in fancy restaurants.
Mark Bittman’s article in today’s Sunday Times Magazine has me searching online for “La Rosita.” Of course, I know deep down that the place he described doesn’t have a website, and won’t be on Trip Advisor. Along the way, I learned how common the name La Rosita is. Do you know how many restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries go by that name? Lots. Search the Google map of Chikindzonot and you come across a Tienda La Rosita, next to a big palapa, but the cartoon image of the Hostess Twinkie-looking thing signals that this is not the place.
But anyway, this is what makes Bittman’s article so interesting. And frustrating. He declares La Rosita the best restaurant on the Yucatán, but doesn’t tell you how to find it.
Maybe it’s a blessing that I can’t find it, because really, the New York Times ruins everything. In Connecticut, they wrecked the river town of Essex with one glowing review. Suddenly it was crushed with tourists. The stores downtown left and were replaced with real estate offices. The A&P became an art gallery. One historic home became a Talbot’s (always the first sign of tourification in Connecticut). Another became a Benneton.This upsets the ecosystem of restaurants, too. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, once the Times awards them five stars, nobody goes there anymore because they’re too crowded. We’re all living in constant fear of having our favorite, secret places ruined by a mention in their “If you were thinking of living in…” series. I think Connecticut has been completely “discovered.” We have no secrets anymore.
The proprietor at the Pickled Onion laughs about the tourists who demanded to see a wine list. I can imagine what the wrong kind of tourist would do out in Chikindzonot, about an hour south of Valladolid.
So maybe Mark Bittman is protecting the place from the onslaught that a Times spotlight usually brings. But when Bittman writes that cochinita pipil is just tourist fare, he’s almost daring me to go out and find “real” Maya cuisine at La Rosita.