LifeStyle Food What is the true origin of the cochinita pibil

What is the true origin of the cochinita pibil


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Cochinita pibil is one of the traditional preparations for Mexican cuisine. It is considered the star dish of the Yucatecan cuisine and has its origins in the prehispanic era.

The traditional food of Yucatan preserves the ingredients and Mayan techniques To which elements brought by the Spanish colonizers were later incorporated, this is how the cochinita pibil arises.

Suckling pig in the earth oven

The name of the famous dish comes from the Mayan language. “Pib” or “Pibil” is a cooking method that the Mayans already used to prepare their food. It means “buried” or “cooked under the ground.”

The cochinita pibil is prepared with meat with suckling pig or pork, with the special flavor of achiote, sour orange, and spices such as pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, and vinegar.

Traditionally it is a preparation that is I baked underground Inside a hole on hot stones, wrapped in banana leaf and the meat is extremely soft. Currently, the suckling pig is also cooked in a conventional oven or steamed.

Offering for the deceased

The dish to the pibil was prepared for the most important celebration in the Mayan region, the Hanal Pixán, in which food and drink are offered to the souls of the faithful departed from October 31 to November 2.

In pre-Hispanic times there were no pigs in Mexico, fish and other animals such as the Tochtli (field rabbit) and turkeys were used; in the Mayan lands, it was common to prepare dishes with venison and pheasant.

It is said that Yucatán was the first place in our continent where pork was tasted.


The axiote or achiote is a distinctive ingredient of the cochinita pibil with which the marinade is prepared. This seasoning is extracted from the ripe red seeds of a fruit that looks like a 5-centimeter capsule and produces a tree with the same name.

The seeds are mixed to form a kind of orange paste. Pasta is the condiment for different Yucatecan dishes.

The Mexican Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development points out that Mayan cultures also used it as an insect repellent, fabric dye, and body paint during their rituals and ceremonies.


One of the most popular ways to enjoy cochinita pibil is in tacos. They have the shredded and rolled meat with corn tortillas, accompanied by tanned purple onions, habanero pepper, or ixnipec sauce, also known as Mayan sauce. They can be served with the tortilla dry or bathed in red broth with the flavor of axiote and other seasonings.

The cochinita pibil is just one of many preparations of the Yucatecan gastronomy, with Mayan roots and that they transformed into a mestizo cuisine. They possess a wealth of ingredients and complexity. Among other typical Yucatecan dishes are papak-tsul, fish in Tikin-Xic, lime soup, black filling, poc chuc, mucbipollo-pib, salbutes, and panuchos.

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