Welcome to Cozumel Mexico! This port stop is well known by frequent Galveston cruisers. We decided to try something new on our recent port stop in Cozumel and signed up for a cooking experience.
The Mayan Gourmet Cooking Experience was not one of the more expensive options and once it was over, we definitely felt it was worth the money.
The tour meeting place was one of the first stores you come to after getting off the ship and once we were all accounted for, our guide took us through port security and into Mexico. After a 10 minute walk, we were in the Royal Village Shopping Center where we arrived at the restaurant: Ix Kool.
The tables were setup with all the tools and ingredients we would need for assembling our appetizers, but first we were delighted with a demonstration of an Ancient Mayan ritual.
The host then played a video (there were 2 screens so everyone was able to see easily). This video provided details about the Mayan culture, history of some of the specialty ingredients and details about the various foods we were going to sample.
Now it was our turn to participate! The appetizer choices were guacamole or sikil p’aak. I made guacamole and my wife made the sikil p’aak. Sikil p’aak is a dip made with roasted tomato, garlic and ground pumpkin seeds. Each step was guided by our host who was friendly and engaging and made the process fun.
The cooking portion is simple, so even those who aren’t used to cooking will enjoy this class. We each began with the molcajete, a stone bowl with character! This bowl is used to grind the ingredients for our dip. Since you are in charge of your dish, you can adjust the ingredients to your preferences. I’m not a fan of cilantro, so I was able to leave it out of my guacamole.
Once our appetizers were ready, hot fresh tortillas arrived at our tables to enjoy our creations. The host then provided a demonstration of griding the corn for the masa that is used to make the tortillas. ( The corn is soaked with lime so it is soft and easily ground with the stone).
Next, the class moved to the griddle where we got a chance to press and cook tortillas. This is optional, so if you don’t want to participate, feel free to just watch. Our host demonstrated how to press the dough and drape the tortilla on the grill to prevent the tortillas from getting bubbles. Then he showed us how to press the cooked tortillas with the spatula to create a ‘puff’ which allows them to be filled with the black bean paste. These are called panuchos.
It is best to arrive hungry! While the group was making tortilla and panuchos, samples of several Mayan dishes were placed at our table and the food kept coming! We enjoyed lima soup, beans with pork, 2 variations of Cochinita Pibil, Mexican sweet cornbread and a delicious coconut cream with a pumpkin seed brittle.
Everyone at the restaurant was friendly and helpful. This was a great experience and we definitely enjoyed our stop in Cozumel!