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The Yucatán Food Festival that brought Mayan cuisine under the spotlight
Posted on 27/02/2020

CultureMexico

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The Hokol Vuh food festival in Yucatán allowed people to experience the legendary Mayan culture through its extraordinary cuisine by the Gulf Beaches of Mexico. During the festival, 200 guests dined at the ruins of Aké, where epicurean wonders were unveiled. The profits from this nine-course charity event went to the non-profit Transformacion Arte y Educacion (TAE) Foundation.

An incredible five day long experience

An incredible five day long experience
© gerardoaguila/123RF

The remarkable five day long food festival and its menu were organised by René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, Michelin-starred chef Christian Puglisi of Reloe in Copenhagen and 16 other internationally acclaimed chefs. The total 18 chefs' restaurants currently hold together 13 Michelin stars, and nearly all the chefs have experience in working in one or more Michelin-starred kitchens. These accomplished chefs took guests through an unforgettable sensory journey, paying tribute to ancient Mayan culinary gems.

But what really set the event apart is that it celebrated the history and culture of the Mayan civilization in a gastronomic form. The name of the event comes from "Popol Vuh", the sacred text of Mayan cosmology. Although there is no direct link to food, it is an interesting wordplay meant to invoke the image of the holy text. Participating chefs said that in the magical Yucatán Peninsula, simple honey is more than just food. Its incredible qualities led Mayans to use it for treating cataracts, healing wounds and improving eye health.

Celebrating gastronomies from all over the world

Celebrating gastronomies from all over the world
© Larisa Blinova/123RF

When people were seated, live musicians started a performance that lasted throughout the whole dinner, from one end of the dining area. Some of the exclusive dishes that were served include xek, a tropical fruit salad commonly served during Día de los Muertos, sashimi with a ponzu of bitter orange, kombu, and achiote paste. There were also mandarin-melipona raspado topped with candied pumpkin and toasted pepitas, as well as plenty of wine and tequila. Guests Instagramed every one of their dishes, then went on to compare their flavours and notes with fellow diners.

Each year, the project strives to discover hidden gastronomies with top chefs from all over the world. The event managed to go much beyond a traditional food festival. It has put forward local produce rooted in centuries of gastronomy, creating divine dishes. The delicious jamboree was created with the help of the Mexican organisation Fundación Haciendas del Mundo Maya, which funds projects to support Mayan communities in the region.