Must try street food in the Yucatan Peninsula

Tamale

Day 15: Campeche, Mexico

I’ve already shared the amazing lime soup, unforgettable Potrada Feliz, and the life changing chile rellenos tacos. The problem with Mexico is that there is just too much food and not enough time to eat it all.

Food in the Yucatan has its own flavour and has been much different from what I experienced in Canada. It draws its influences from many cultures including the local Mayan, Caribbean and Middle Eastern. I’m leaving the region, but not before recommending three more dishes to try:

Tamales (photo above)

The tamale has been around for nearly ten thousand years and is popular throughout Latin America. They are made from masa, a starchy corn-based dough that is steamed or boiled in a leaf until solid. They can be filled with any assortment of meat, cheese, vegetables etc.

The ultimate comfort food, Mexico has almost 1000 different varieties of tamales depending on the region and I plan to eat as many as I can.

I found my first tamale from a vendor at the food market. The price depended on the size and I chose a smaller one, slightly larger than a deck of cards, for 65 cents. The filling was simply tomato based with chicken, accompanied by a baggie of hot sauce to spice things up. I ate them every day is Merida, which left more room in my budget for too many pitchers of beer.

Panuchos

Originating in Merida, Panuchos are small fried corn tortillas garnished with black beans and topped with turkey or chicken, lettuce, avocado and pickled onion. As always, hot sauce or habanero peppers are availble as an additional topping. Many street vendors and restaurants sell them throughout Merida and the Yucatan.

Unlike some other street food it was light, fresh and didn’t have the heaviness of typical fried food. It’s often an appetizer, but like most food in Mexico, it was enough for lunch.

Salbutes

Very similar to panuchos, another very traditional dish from the Yucatan are salbutes, a deep fried soft tortilla topped with chicken, turkey or pork, onions, tomatoes and lettuce. The corn tortillas fry in oil until they crisp and are topped with meat, tomato, lettuce, sliced avocado and pickled onion.

As delicious as they are, I would consider them as treat as they are deep fried.

I ate my first salbute in a market stall in Campeche where the vendors shout out the menu to entice people to sit at their table. Lunch was somewhat eventful as the women laughed at me for photographing my food. While my Spanish was weak, I did understand one cook mocking another that no one was taking photos of her food.

Comments

  1. says

    Yummm tamales. All your posts do is make me miss California and all the great Mexican food we have! I hope that you’ll still be in Mexico for Cinco de Mayo- I’d love to see pictures from that!

  2. says

    MMM I love a good tamal. I knew they were big in the Mexican diet but didn’t realize how many other countries have a tamal or tamal like food. Peru had these weird green ones with no filling in the center, but it was still delicious. Did they have any bacon tamales?

  3. Ayngelina says

    @eat-pray-love-anon

    Oh I’m afraid when I was in Mexico I couldn’t speak very much Spanish at all. At that time I just pointed to what I wanted but honestly all the food was delicious so you couldn’t go wrong.

  4. Joe Pringle says

    In Mexico tamales are more often called tortas,,, and do very along the south sea but much different in Mexico City and Jurez

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