This morning, as I did my morning shopping at El Mercado Stop y Shop, I came across Saveur magazine’s “Mexico Issue.” The Yucatecan chip on my shoulder had me paging through to see if the peninsula would get its due. First, I saw an ad for Yucatán tourism, but that didn’t satisfy. The region would have to do more than buy its way into the issue. Then, I found a very dignified spread headlined “Queen of the Yucatán.” Bingo! We made it.
Turns out the queen is Transita Varguez Pacheco, 76, who runs Wiggie Andrews Holders’ hacienda kitchen outside Mérida. She has been the family’s live-in cook for more than 50 years. Her dignified portrait is in black-and-white, but for the colors of her kitchen, a photo gallery is online. The article is poetic and lovely, and reminds me how much I have to learn, and have yet to taste. Written from the point of view of an outsider from Mexico City, the piece is a good primer for anyone just learning about the region. The following spread comprises two colorful portraits, pollo pilbil facing huevos Motuleños. In four pages, the reader gets a pretty good beginner’s tour of the peninsula.
Elsewhere, an aerial photo of a green, lush Yucatán jungle is juxtaposd with a bow-tied waiter in Mexico City, standing erect. All sorts of contrasts are found and explored. “In fact, what cooks are making in Baja California is worlds apart from what folks are eating in the Yucatán or in Oaxaca,” notes Rick Bayless in the introduction. To which I say, “well, duh.” But that point has to be made over and over until it’s common knowledge in the States.
Food from all the regions are represented throughout the issue. I learned so much, and I’m holding back the impulse to stock up on more Mexican cookbooks while I’m still living in an Amazon.com free-shipping zone. But it’s the food of Yucatán that’s described as “soul satisfying,” and as accolades go, it doesn’t get better than that.