Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
I arrived in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Although I come every year, this beach town is still my favorite. The highway leading into Playa is submerged in lush green jungle, but once you arrive, it truly is paradise. We arrived at our hotel and were greeted with white sand beaches and a breath taking turquoise ocean. I must admit, traveling with 3 kids (ages 9,4, and 4 months), I am already exhausted… But the show must go on. Regardless of the mayhem that is my life (my family is known as Category 5), I love to explore and take in the experience.
We are meeting with my sister, my brother in law, and my father on the famous 5th avenue (known locally as “la quinta”) for some Mayan cuisine. We met at my father’s favorite restaurant called “Yaxche” (mayancuisine.com). Here I got to order all my Yucatecan favorites such as Panuchos, Salbutes and Queso Relleno.
In Playa, there is a wonderful (and popular) Yucatecan food market that is held daily off of 5th avenue. The one downfall (also why it is so popular), is that the carts produce only a limited amount of food daily. One must arrive at 6:00 am on the dot or you run the risk of going home empty handed. It doesn’t seem to be a problem with the locals, as the street market serves as a hearty breakfast before the work day begins. But what gives this small market its character was the fact that the vendors were speaking to each other in Mayan. It reminds me of my grandmother, who also spoke Mayan as a second language.
There are about five carts, all serving various Mayan delicacies. The first cart that I notice is also the most popular. It was the cart serving the region’s signature dish, Cochinita Pibil. It is a whole pig marinated in achiote, they also add oregano, and sour oranges (known as naranja agria). It truly was a sight to be seen, locals jockeying for position as they try to get their hands on as many cochinita tacos as humanly possible. I myself am not going to be denied, and I luckily order three tacos before the cart closes for the day. The tacos are divine! They’re filled with cochinita, cebolla escabache (pickled red onion), and habanero.
After inhaling my cochinita tacos, Ed and I proceed to the next cart. They are selling Pollo en Recado Negro. Recado Negro is a paste like black marinade made of all dark spices. Another favorite of mine! This vendor is also selling their Mayan treat in taco form. She’s serving the chicken shredded in its own juices, topped off with hard-broiled egg and habanero. I finish my Mayan breakfast, I am stuffed but completely satisfied.