Wordless Wednesday: A peaceful view in Cancun

Sometimes we get caught up in the madness that is work, regular life or the holiday season and we forget to be thankful for the small things. My cuñada was recently in Cancún and sent me this photo of the beautiful turquoise ocean. I’ve been looking at it often, whenever I need a slice of tranquility. And it won’t be long before I see the ocean again, so looking at the photo is a nice reminder that my holiday vacation is not very far away.

  • Do you have a photo that you look at often to remind you of a place in Mexico or that takes you to your happy place? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Back from Cancún…

coconuts growing in Cancun

I’m back from Cancun and finally starting to recover from the intense humidity–about 95 percent–and nursing some mosquito bites so nasty that it looks like I’m coming down with a case of the chicken pox.

But aside from the weather (Hurricane Ida couldn’t stop me) and some bugs, Cancun did not disappoint.

There’s something I just love about coconuts–and piña coladas don’t even begin to cover it. All over Cancun, I saw palm trees with coconuts growing on them. In some cases, I saw them ripe and brown and falling off the tree; in other instances I saw gardeners trimming the leaves and picking up broken coconuts that had fallen to the ground. To some, getting to see coconut trees is no big deal, but to a Chicagoan it was a little slice of heaven. How glorious to have these natural beauties growing in your front yard or on the side of the road near where you live. These are things I dream about during the long Chicago winters.

As I was only in Cancun for a few days and working when I wasn’t sleeping, I didn’t get much of a chance to explore local taco joints much to my chagrin. But I did eat a few noteworthy items and jotted down a few thoughts to share.

sopa de lima

Sopa de lima, the quintessential Yucatecan dish, was undoubtedly the culinary highlight of my short trip. This version was the traditional broth with the addition of shredded chicken, strips of red bell pepper and nopales (also known as cactus paddle, and new to me as an ingredient of this soup), a generous floating slice of lime and a handful of perfectly crunchy tortilla strips which I promptly devoured before I even managed to take a photo.

I’m big on soups, and as my husband might also remind me, I’m big on lime juice even when it doesn’t technically belong there. I’ve never made sopa de lima at home; my first authentic taste of it was at El Faisan, a Yucatecan restaurant in Cuernavaca (a stone’s throw from Mexico City) about a year ago. Sopa de lima is simply a chicken stock-based soup with a lot less lime juice than you’d think neccesary in order to be called lime soup. A number of the recipes I’ve been studying include either serrano chiles or habaneros, and many have interesting spices like cloves or bay leaves and peppercorns in the preparation as well.

I’ll be experimenting with some sopa de lima recipes from Spanish-language cookbooks this winter, and when I find one that I think is worth sharing, I’ll let you know. I’m hoping to also get some more authentic sopa de lima taste-testing in when I travel to Cozumel soon. If you’ve got a good recipe, please get in touch and share so I can try it out. I’ve seen so many variations on the recipe that it almost makes my head spin when I think about it. Of course, I’ll be seeking advice and recipe suggestions from friends and family in Mexico when I make my annual December visit.

Other food notables from the trip: each day with breakfast, I ate chistorra, a notoriously fatty, delicious, fast-curing pork or pork/beef sausage not unlike chorizo (except for its size). The first night, I had a torta de cochinita pibil with an elegantly sliced avocado garnishing the plate, and as you can probably imagine, it didn’t take me too long to enjoy it–avocado and all.

I’d love to see any comments about your favorite Yucatecan foods as I’ll be headed back to the region in January.

  • How do you like your sopa de lima?

This Tortilla is headed South of the border!

I’m very excited to share that I’m on my way to the Yucatan Peninsula this morning… Cancún to be exact! I must admit, I was a little stressed about the weather over the weekend with Hurricane Ida passing over Cancún, but it seems to have passed and my flight is scheduled to leave on time.

It’s my first time visiting Cancún, and while I’ll be there on “official business” almost all week (photographing a wedding), I’ll also be scouting for local tacos and other Mexican delights to please my palate. Please share with me in the comments your favorite Yucatecan dishes–I plan to try some new things there and hope to come back with some ideas for recipes to tinker with in my kitchen!

Cancun Map

map of Mexico (pinpoint on Cancún)

I’ve had several questions about where certain Mexican cities are located in relation to each other over the last few weeks, so I know some of you will appreciate this little geography lesson. Cancún is at the northeast tip of the peninsula–and is far from the centrally located capital, Mexico City, from where I usually take most of my culinary influence here on The Other Side of The Tortilla.

Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatan Peninsula

 

Though Cancún is certainly a big tourist destination because of the beautiful beaches, there is much more to this region than beaches and resorts synonymous with spring-breakers. It’s rich with ancient ruins, cenotes, lush ecosystems and is abundant with remnants of pre-Hispanic civilizations.

I’ll be back at the end of the week with photos and stories to share.

I look forward to reading your comments about Cancún and the Yucatan Peninsula when I return! (And don’t forget next week is tortilla soup week.)

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