Comida de Fiesta in Xela

By David Tiguilá

This article will explore the main comida tipica dishes found here in Xela and the history of how the cuisine developed.

We descendents of indigenous families native to an area, in this case to Xela, believe we know the true reason why comida tipica, or food for special occasions, developed. Our ancestors overcame the period when the Spanish arrived in Central America and brought various customs, negative and positive. On the negative side, the Spanish imposed a typical set of clothing for each indigenous group to be able to differentiate between them. On the positive side, they also brought seeds such as sesame, cinnamon and many others. These new ingredients were then applied to the foods that indigenous women already knew how to prepare, and thus were invented Guatemala’s delicious platos tipicos.

While dishes such as el pepián, el quichom and el jocom are found in many parts of Guatemala, each has been adapted to local preferences. Here are the details of the Xela variants:

El Pepián Quetzalteco: For Quetzaltecos, this is the most delicious local dish. It can be served at a baptism, wedding or in any family celebration. Its ingredients are a home-grown hen with a sauce made from pumpkin seeds, sesame, cinnamon, Castile pepper, cumin, cherry tomatoes and white bread crumbs. It is typically accompanied by white rice with peas, carrots and bell peppers if the cook so desires.

El Quichom Quetzalteco: This specialty has a spicy sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, ‘chapa’ pepper, seeds of the ayote, Coban chile peppers, achote and white bread crumbs. It is served with pork or home-grown hen rice and includes vegetables such as a salad.

El Jocom Quetzalteco: The sauce consists of cherry tomatoes, Castile pepper, cumin, cilantro, spicy green chiles and white bread crumbs and is served with either home-grown hen or beef. It is served with white rice. All of this wouldn’t be a banquet without white tamales with the ‘eye of corn’, wrapped in a young corn leaf.

You also cannot leave Xela without trying many other local dishes including (in local parlance so you’ll recognize them): el mole Quetzalteco, el iguaxte, el chirmolito de carne de marrano, el recadito de habas tiernas, paches de papa, tamales de arroz, los cambrayes, chuchitos, tamalitos de chipilin, pan con chocolate, atol de elote y arroz en leche, atol de maíz quebrantado, arroz con chocolate and tortillas de maíz, or as my ‘buelita says, pixtones – thick and well toasted, but not burned!

Buen provecho…or Ut’z ipet’k!

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