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Ven A Comer 2022: A Taste of Yucatán

June 21, 2022

On the evening of Friday, June 17, 2022, more than 100 diners gathered at Hotel Emma in San Antonio for Ven A Comer 2022. This was the first time UTSA Special Collections has been able to hold its annual fundraising dinner since 2019. Guest chef Roberto Solís traveled from Mérida, Yucatán to treat attendees to a Yucatecan-themed menu inspired by UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection. Mezonte’s Curator of Agave Distilled Spirits, Pedro Jiménez Gurría, traveled from Guadalajara, Jalisco to provide patrons with a taste of Jalisco’s finest elixirs. The result was a night filled with love for Yucatán’s culinary delights and Jalisco’s A1 alcohols.

Nestled in Cellar J, away from the food and drinks, UTSA Special Collections staff presented materials from the Mexican Cookbook Collection. The chosen titles highlighted the last century of cuisine throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Early examples include Hortensia Rendón de García’s 1926 Antiguo manual de cocina yucateca: fórmulas para condimentar los platos más usuales en la península, Manuel Ferrer Berrón’s 1925 Libro de cocina: estilo campechano, as well as a set of Dr. Narciso Novelo-Souza’s pamphlets describing Maya legends on various plants.

Overall, patrons and staff enjoyed the evening and many valuable connections were made. The night wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of our partners: the Historic Pearl Brewery, Hotel Emma, Mexican Consulate of San Antonio, and Mexican Cultural Institute; and signature sponsors HEB, Gambrinus Company, San Antonio Mexico Friendship Council, San Antonio World Heritage Office, and San Antonio Creative City of Gastronomy. Proceeds from the dinner will support the continued expansion and conservation of the Mexican Cookbook Collection. Readers interested in contributing to these efforts are welcome to donate via the UTSA Special Collections website. The complete list of books on display will be provided below.

  • Ferrer Berrón, Manuel. Libro de cocina: estilo campechano. Campeche, 1925.
    • The earliest Campeche cookbook in the Mexican Cookbook Collection, Libro de cocina was published in 1925 with the intent of teaching anyone how to cook. Recipes include sopa de camarones, mondongo en puchero, and cazón a la campechana. 
  • Rendón de García, Hortensia. Antiguo manual de cocina yucateca: fórmulas para condimentar los platos más usuales en la península. Tomos I, II, y III, refundidos con numerosas adiciones y reformas. 6. ed. Mérida, Yucatán, México: Compañía Tipográfica Yucateca, 1926.
    • The earliest Yucatan book in the Mexican Cookbook Collection, Antiguo manual de cocina yucateca was published in 1926 in Mérida. UTSA’s copy is the 6th edition and combines all three original volumes into a single book. Recipes include arroz con ostiones, robalo en crema, and estofado Yucateca. 
  • Sosa de Zapata, Adda. Libro práctico de gustadas recetas de cocina yucateca e internacional. México 15, D.F., 1935.
    • Sosa de Zapata’s Libro práctico de gustadas recetas de cocina yucateca e internacional was published in Mexico City in 1935. It presents Yucatecan recipes for soups, stews, sauces, salads, sweets, breads, as well as egg, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood dishes. The international recipes include syrups and Arab dishes. 
  • Lavalle de Hernández M., Faustina. La exquisita cocina de Campeche: 400 recetas experimentadas. México: Imprenta “Londres,” 1939.
    • The second earliest Campeche title in the Mexican Cookbook Collection features a staggering 400 recipes, including pan de cazón, pulpo en su tinto, and tamales de pámpano. 
  • México: tierra de antojitos. México, D. F.?: [publisher not identified], 1950.
    • This small booklet of recipes is arranged by regions: México, Guadalajara, Veracruz, Puebla, El Norte, Yucatán. 
  • Novo, Salvador and Alberto Beltrán. Las senadoras suelen guisar. 1a. ed. [Mexico City?], México: Instituto Nacional de Protección a la Infancia, 1964.
    • Alberto Beltrán’s 1964 cookbook features more than 300 recipes from 28 states in Mexico as well as delightful illustrations by Alberto Beltrán. 
  • Diana Kennedy Papers, MS 512, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
    • The eight folders and four binders selected contain Diana Kennedy’s research on Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. The research materials date from 1969-2003, but also includes many undated items.     
  • León de Gutiérrez, Luz and José Díaz Bolio. El libro de los guisos de chaya. Segundo volumen, Chaya, planta maravillosa: alimenticia y medicinal. Mérida, Yucatán, Méjico: Area Mayan, 1974.
    • This book of stews also serves as an ethnobotanical chronicle of chaya, or tree spinach. Cooking this plant is essential as it contains a high content of hydrocyanic acid, which is toxic, and must be cooked out. 
  • Díaz Bolio, José. El libro de los guisos de maíz: (cocina jach yucateca). Mérida, Yucatán, México: Editorial Area Maya, 1985.
    • José Díaz Bolio’s collection of Maya corn-based recipes. 
  • Marks, Copeland. False Tongues and Sunday Bread: a Guatemalan and Mayan Cookbook. New York, N.Y: Donald I. Fine, 1985.
    • Copeland Marks’ cookbook collects 300 Maya recipes from Guatemala. 
  • Gerlach, Nancy and Jeffrey Gerlach. Foods of the Maya: a Taste of the Yucatan. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1994.
    • This title represents years of travel and research on the part of its authors. In addition to recipes like pompano tamales, shrimp enchiladas, and candied sweet papaya, Foods of the Maya includes cooking tips and techniques as well as a glossary of terms. 
  • Hamman, Cherry. Mayan Cooking: Recipes from the Sun Kingdoms of Mexico. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1998.
    • Within this title, Hamman includes 200 recipes, including piquant chili spice paste, empanadas de platano, joroches de chaya, pebre, and xka bi kuum. In addition to recipes, Mayan Cooking also describes the traditions in the remote Yucatecan village Acabchen, where the food is prepared with care and first presented to the gods. 
  • Ferrer García, José C. Recetario maya de Quintana Roo. 1. ed. en la Colección Cocina indígena y popular. México, D.F: CONACULTA, 1999.
    • Ferrer Garcia’s CONACULTA-published book focuses on Maya food in Quintana Roo, specifically beverages, meals, as well as Holbox island foods. Recipes include buut negro de caracol, albóndiga de lisa, chilmole de bagre, and tzacol de langosta y empanadas de raya. 
  • Maldonado Castro, Roberto. Recetario maya del estado de Yucatán. 1. ed. México: CONACULTA, 2000.
    • CONACULTA was founded in 1988 as an effort to coordinate cultural and artistic policies, organizations, and agencies in Mexico. Part of their efforts has been focused on preserving Mexico’s culinary heritage by publishing cookbooks on each region’s cuisine. 
  • Hoyer, Daniel. Mayan Cuisine: Recipes from the Yucatan Region. 1st ed. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2008.
    • Hoyer’s book walks readers through the basics of Maya cuisine, such as recado as well as salpicón de venado, pavo en chilimole, and cochinita pibil. 
  • Sánchez, Ivonne, Estrada Lugo, Erin Ingrid Jane, and Té Saida, Velasco. Alimentos de los mayas de Quintana Roo, México. 1a ed. San Cristóbal de Las Casas, México: El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, 2012.
    • This cookbook reflects the peninsular Maya gastronomic world. 
  • Sterling, David. Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition. First edition. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2014.
    • This gastronomic tour of the Yucatán peninsula features more than 275 unique recipes from major cities and small towns alike. In addition to recipes, Sterling’s book includes recommended pantry staples, advice on measurements, as well as basic preparation techniques. 

The following set of pamphlets was published in Mérida, Yucatán between 1939-1949 by Dr. Narciso Souza Novelo and was donated by Michaele Haynes. Each pamphlet focuses on a specific Yucatán plant and describes local uses as well as Maya legends and traditions around its use. 

  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. El zicilte. Merida, Yucatán, México: Compania Tipografica Yucateca, S.A., 1939.
    • El zicilte, Jatropha curcas, is a flowering, semi-evergreen shrub that can reach heights of 6 feet or more. Its oil is used as a lubricant, in soaps and candles, and medicinally as a purgative or to treat edema. The toxic elements in le zicilte oil can be cooked out. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Pochote. Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico: “Impresora Popular,” 1939.
    • Pochote, Ceiba aesculifolia, is a deciduous tree that can grow to up to 82 feet. The name pochote is derived from the Nahuatl work “pochotl”. This pamphlet describes the cultivation of pochote as well as uses for the hairs of its fruits and seeds and its bark and wood. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Sábila o zábila. Mérida, Yucatán, México: Compañía Tipográfica Yucateca, S.A., 1940.
    • Aloe vera is known by many names, including sábila or zábila in Spanish; the Maya call this botanical Humpets’k’in-ki. Though originally from Africa, aloe vera has been cultivated across the world for its medicinal benefits. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Matzab-citám. Mérida: “Impresora Popular,” 1940.
    • Known to the Maya as matzab-citám, the Spanish needle, Bidens pilosa, is an annual species of herbaceous flowering plant. Matzab-citám is a member of the daisy family that can be found throughout the American tropics and is a favorite of butterflies. The Maya use this medicinal plant to treat an assortment of conditions, such as toothache and bronchitis, and as it is not poisonous, it is safe for consumption.  
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. K’anlol (planta medicinal). Mérida, Yucatán, México: “Henequeneros de Yucatán,” 1945.
    • This pamphlet details the medicinal uses of k’anlol or tecoma stans. Tecoma stans are a flowering perennial shrub native to the southwest of North America as well as throughout Central and South America. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Tsapa: leyenda maya. Mérida, Yuc: Imp. Oriente, 1945.
    • This pamphlet covers Itza Maya legends from the ancient city of Uxmal and describes some of the city’s animal inhabitants like frogs, turtles, and crickets. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. X-háil: leyenda maya. Mérida, Yuc., Méx: Imp. Oriente, 1946.
    • The X-hail flower comes in a wide variety of sizes and corolla colors. This book focuses on the Maya legend of dt lk’il-Ik, high priest and doctor for the Maya town Uxmal, and his daughters Sauink’-ux and Suyá. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Plantas utiles de Yucatan. Akits (campanilla amarilla). Mérida, Yuc: Talleres Gráficos y Editorial “Zamna,” 1946.
    • Akits is the Maya name for Thevetia, a flowering plant with poisonous seeds and secretions. The Maya used Akits to treat dental pain, fever, and ingested poison. The toxicity of Akits’ secretions can be neutralized with heat. The oils from the seeds are used as a lubricant and used in paint and soaps. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Ch’it-Kúuk: leyenda maya. Tercera edición. Mérida, Yuc: Editorial Yikal Maya Than, 1947.
    • This pamphlet details legends such as the founding of the Yucatec Maya town Peto, the love story of NIK-CHUIL and AH KECH, as well as how the plant the Maya named CH’IT-KUUK fits into these tales. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Plantas utiles de Yucatan. Akits (campanilla amarilla). Mérida, Yuc: Talleres Gráficos y Editorial “Zamna,” 1946.
    • Akits is the Maya name for Thevetia, a flowering plant with poisonous seeds and secretions. The Maya used Akits to treat dental pain, fever, and ingested poison. The toxicity of Akits’ secretions can be neutralized with heat. The oils from the seeds are used as a lubricant and used in paint and soaps. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. El balché: leyenda maya. Mérida, Yuc: Impr. Oriente, 1946.
    • Balché is a fermented beverage composed of bark from a lilac tree, Lonchocarpus violaceus, steeped in honey water and fermented. This pamphlet describes the Maya legend of the lovers WAY-KOL and SAK-NIKTE’ and how they came upon this beverage. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. La X-tabay: leyenda maya, inédita. Mérida, Yuc: [Tall. Gráficos y Editorial “Zamana”], 1949.
    • This pamphlet details the legend of the Maya princess Suluay and the sorceress. The sorceress is referred to as the X-pulyaah. X-tabay refers to an apparition of a young woman who appears in Yucatán who seduces young men. 

The following cookbooks were written and published by TV chef, radio host, publisher, author, and teacher, Josefina Velázquez de León. Velázquez de León was one of the earliest writers researching regional Mexican cuisines. Throughout her career, Velázquez de León visited at least 16 states to teach classes and collect local recipes and she would even credit the recipe authors in the subsequent regional cookbooks. 

  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Platillos regionales de la República Mexicana. 1. ed. México, D.F: Ediciones J. Velázquez de León, 1946. 
    • Platillos regionales de la República Mexicana features recipes from 29 states, many including indigenous ingredients like achiote, agave, cacahuazintle, chipilín, expelon, jocoqui, nopales, tequesquite, and xoconoxtles. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Mexican Cook Book Devoted to the American Homes: Recipes of Mexican Cookery of Each Region of the Mexican Country, Adopting Its Ingredients, to the Elements That Can Be Substituted in the Northern Part of the United States, Central Republic and South America, Written in Two Languages: English and Spanish. Mexico City: [Escuela de Cocina “Velázquez de León”], 68 Abraham Gonzalez Street, 1947.
    • This is Velázquez de León’s sole bilingual cookbook, first published in 1947 followed by at least 11 later editions. Mexican Cook Book Devoted to the American Homes was translated by Concepción Silva Garcia and illustrated by Guadalupe Mutiozabal Velazquez de León. In addition to recipes, this book includes instructional sections on preparation methods as well as ingredients. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Cocina de Campeche: selección de las principales recetas regionales, de cocina y repostería campechana, experimentadas y garantizadas por la Academia de Cocina Velázquez de León. 1. ed. México, D.F: Ediciones J. Velázquez de León, 1953.
    • Cocina de Campeche features a selection of regional recipes, including recipes containing expelon, ibes, pavo de monte, and pepita de calabaza. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Cocina yucateca. 2. ed. México, D.F: [Academia de Cocina Velázquez de León], 1955.
    • Cocina yucateca features a selection of regional recipes, including recipes containing el cazón, epazote, and expelon. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Cocina de América: selección de las principales recetas de cocina regionales de las 24 naciones de América ; recetas de los mejores platillos de cocina y repostería de los 30 estados de la República Mexicana. 1a. ed. México, D.F: Ediciones J. Velázquez de Léon, n.d.
    • Cocina de América features recipes of the best cooking and pastry dishes of the 24 countries in the Americas and the 30 states of the Mexican Republic. The recipes in this book were provided by Velázquez de León’s cooking class students. Also included are cakes decorated with the shield of each country. 

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