Food for the Yucatán Journey, 1854

By John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood

AlligatorsThe next morning the juez [judge] came to say that the bogadores [rowers] were not ready, and could not go that day. The price which he named was about twice as much as the cura [priest] told us we ought to pay, besides possol (balls of mashed Indian corn), tortillas, honey, and meat. I remonstrated, and he went off to consult the mozos [boys], but returned to say that they would not take less, and, after treating him with but little of the respect due to office, I was obliged to accede; but I ought to add, that throughout that country, in general, prices are fixed, and there is less advantage taken of the necessity of travelers than in most others. We were loath to remain, for, besides the loss of time and the mosquitoes, the scarcity of provisions was greater than at Palenque.

The sexton bought us some corn, and his wife made us tortillas. The principal merchant in the place, or, at least, the one who traded most largely with us, was a little boy about twelve years old, who was dressed in a petate or straw hat. He had brought us some fruit, and we saw him coming again with a string over his naked shoulder, dragging on the ground what proved to be a large fish. The principal food of the place was young alligators. They were about a foot and a half long, and at that youthful time of life were considered very tender. At their first appearance on the table they had not an inviting aspect, but—ce n’est que le premier pas qui coute [this is just the first step that costs]—they tasted better than the fish, and they were the best food possible for our canoe voyage, being dried and capable of preservation.

From: Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. London: A. Hall, Virtue & Co., 1854.

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AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

1 Comment

  1. My mother in law lived in Cenotillo,Yucatan and she used to make a candy called Sapotito. Can you get this recepie and post it or email it to me? Love this candy. Thank you, Sally Contreras

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