“Chuch n kep!” “Rosca la whit!” Ishiwanee chan tsis!” Overhearing these extremely offensive phrases hurled around in San Francisco kitchens was my rude introduction to the Mayan dialects of the Yucatan. Like any other immigrant group, normally one pioneer comes to America and once they find work, their village follows. In the Mission District and the Tenderloin, many of the recent immigrants have come from the Yucatan and Chiapas, once the epicenter of Mayan culture.
While many of these immigrants cook in restaurants serving food from a wide range of cultures, their desire to eat the flavors from home has spurned an explosion of Yucatecan restaurants in San Francisco. It is now not uncommon to find panuchos or salbutes, or perhaps the more well-known cochinita pibil. In English, cochinita pibil translates as “buried pig”. Traditionally, a pig is wrapped in banana leaves, buried underground with coals and slow cooked.
Our version is rubbed with achiote, onions, orange and lime juice, and braised in the oven wrapped with banana leaves. Served with the traditional black beans, pickled red onions and queso fresco, these tacos will make their debut appearance on the menu tonight.
As for the phrases above, it is better not to know their meaning, unless you want from your mother a mouthful of jabón!