The ancient Mayan diet focused on three domesticated staple crops: corn, squash and beans. This trio is commonly referred to as the “Three Sisters”. Hunting also supplied the Maya with their main sources of protein which included: turkey, deer, tapir, peccary, monkey and iguana. The exploitation of coastal resources was also important and included: fish, lobster, shrimp, conch and other shellfish. With the conquest of the Americas all of these flavors mixed with other ingredients from places such as Lebanon, Spain and many other parts of Europe and created Yucatecan cuisine as we know it today.
The core of Yucatecan cuisine resides in what we call “Recado Rojo” or Achiote paste which was an original Mayan recipe. This spice mixture usually includes annatto, Mexican oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic and salt. We should also mention the “Recado Negro” and “Recado Blanco”, other pastes which are used to marinate and color our Yucatecan dishes.