Maya Say The World is Ending, So Try a Little Nosh Before You Go

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The Maya's "Long Count" calendar denotes December 21, 2012, as the end of a 5,126-year era. The world as we know it ending on that date is unlikely, scholars say. Still, you have to wonder.

I spent a few days in Mexico last week at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, and I realized I didn't know much about the Maya culture, especially in terms of food. So, I spent some time at the Maya ruins in Tulum and then ventured out to find out what the deal is with Maya food.

I figured Yaxche, in Playa del Carmen, would be a good place to start my education, since they're known for their stellar Maya food. They use local ingredients and classic Maya techniques, offering guests three types of food:

1. Authentic Maya: original recipes, traditionally prepared with ancient ingredients, like the chaya tamale

2. Yucatan specialties: recipes crafted during the conquest of Mexico that blend ingredients of both worlds, like foods with cheese fillings

3. Maya-fusion: recipes that Yaxche cooks created specifically for its menu, like
Shrimp Ixel, which blends together ancient and contemporary flavors

So, in case the universe does come to end, after the jump five Maya dishes to try before you die.

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1. Saca Chay: Corn and chaya deep fried "Tortitas" made of corn and chaya stuffed with cheese, topped with house salad.

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2. Pibxcatik: Grilled Xcatic pepper filled with cochinita pibil and topped with julienne red onions.

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3. Xaman-Ha: Fresh fish filet stuffed with vegetables, wrapped in chaya leaves and poached in white wine.

4. Kinich chicken: Grilled chicken marinated in a chipotle pepper and tangerine-juice sauce.

5. Blackened stuffed turkey: Stuffed turkey with ground beef and boiled egg and simmered in burnt pepper sauce.

I've only been home 24 hours now and I'm already craving Yaxche's food. Don't know when I'll get back to the Riviera Maya though. So, if anyone has suggestions for getting my hands on some of these dishes here in Dallas, I hope you'll share them here.

Follow City of Ate on Twitter: @cityofate.

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