My friends introduced me to the lovely Virginia Herrera who runs the Eladio’s restaurante & bar empire in Mérida. Eladio’s are family restaurants with lively music that serve botanas (appetizers or tapas) with your order of cold beer or soft drinks. Virginia informed me that they serve about 80 different types of botanas (including many Yucatecan specialties and about 20 vegetarian dishes). Botanas include guacamole, salsas and other dips, ceviche, quesadillas, taco variations, enchiladas, chiles Rellenos, tamales, flautas, empanadas, vegetables, cheeses, and many more small plates of tasty food tidbits. Unlike the Spanish tapas concept, at Eladio’s you pay for the drinks consumed and the botanas are provided on the house.
Yucatecan cuisine is a rich blend of Mayan, Spanish, French and Caribbean techniques and ingredients. I am only beginning to get to know this cuisine but thanks to the “Cocina Yucateca” cookbook that I received from Virginia as a birthday present, I will be able to learn more and be able to cook some local specialties when I return to the Yucatan.
A very simple snack or botana is guacamole and tortilla chips. Don't buy the commercial varieties of Guacamole which must be full of chemicals or things other than avocado to produce the vibrant green colour. Guacamole is simple to make and good for you.
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pit removed
1 ripe, small Roma tomato, seeded, finely diced
30 mL (2 Tbsp) onion, minced
1/2 small jalapeño chile, seeded, minced (vary amount depending on heat of chile and to taste)
30 mL (2 Tbsp) chopped cilantro leaves
30 mL (2 Tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice
Hot pepper sauce and sea salt, to taste
Cut avocado into large chunks; mash in a large bowl with a fork (mash with mortar and pestle or blend in a food processor) retaining some of the chunky texture. Add remaining ingredients and blend. Taste and adjust seasoning with pepper sauce and salt if desired.