I love to visit markets in different parts of the world where I can see how people buy the food that cook. The above photo was taken at the Saturday morning market in Santiago Atitlan. Many villages in this area of Lake Atitlan grow the small onions you see above, meticulously cleaning them at the lake shore before transporting them to market in large baskets.
Vegetarian lunches and dinners were easy to locate in Guatemala. While larger tourist centers offer a wide range of international food, there are also traditional Guatemalan dishes that have no meat. The above is a dish that I ordered at La Fonda de Calle Real in Antigu – potatoes, green beans and chaote in pepin suace, served in a banana leaf with a side of rice pilaf. Pepin suace is made with roasted pumpking and seseme seeds, cloves, cinnamon, and roasted plum tomatoes.
Rice is usually prepared with finely diced carrots and green peppers, peas or green beans. This preparation is so popular, you can buy carrots and beans pre-diced, in bulk, at any food market.
This plato vegetariano from Comida Tipica Kaquikel (a type of people in and language in the Lake Atitlan region)in Panajachel incorporates many of the food items the also appear in breakfasts – rice, beans, cheese and guacemole. Rice and beans is perhaps the most common dinner in Guatemala, but this “plato” added steamed vegetables, a half of a boiled plantain, and a dab of mayonaise (which I skipped). It was just the right amount of food!
This basic cucumber salad with onions and yogurt gets dressed up with the addition of black sesame seeds, tomato, and a sprig of cilantro.
It’s not a meal without a basket of hot, fresh, handmade corn tortillas. The smell amazing, and the quick grilling on a large griddle sears them with a toasted corn flavor.
Cucumber, vine ripened tomatoes, avocado, onion, red onion, grated carrot, and just a dash of oil and vinegar. Heaven.
The restaurant at Posada de Santiago does international food right. While my schezuan eggplant was’nt at all spicy, it was coated in in yummy sweet soy sauce and the pieces of eggplant were still firm with an almost thick, yet still tender skin.
On the other hand, international food can go horribly wrong. This green thai “curry,” served at La Casa del Mundo, was the only dissapointing meal I had my entire trip. It was not spicy, it did not taste at all likely curry, I don’t know where the “green” description came from, and it was served on a bed of spaghetti. This meal is a perfect example of why I avoid “international” food when traveling – what the locals cook best is food traditional to the region.
Not at all native to Guatemala, the cheese quesadillas, picked up in Zona Viva, Guatemala City, were still a tasty late dinner for Senor Lanky, served with an assortment of salsa, mild grilled green onions, guacemole and fresh pineapple.