Wandering around the colorful markets of Guatemala makes you realize you are entering a new world. The tortillas are freshly made by the woman in front of you, turning the corn patties from their left to their right hand. The women’s smile shines through their colorful outfits and the street vendors try to sell you everything from fruits and veggies to fresh meat and fish hanging around. Walking in these bustling markets makes you wonder why you would ever go to a supermarket again. The market seems to have all of the Guatemalan food.
Tasty or filling food in Guatemala?
But the richness of the markets makes me wonder where all that tasteful food goes to. After a couple of days traveling through Guatemala and trying some local dishes on the road, I realize that most food is chosen by how much it will make you feel full instead of how it can be the tastiest or healthiest. A regular Guatemalan meal exits normally of rice, beans, and tortillas. Or the street vendor on the corner of the street will just put everything in their fryer. Although it tastes fine, it’s definitely not the healthiest part of the Guatemalan culture.
Yummy Guatemalan food
But if you let go of your healthy wings, you see that the culture has lots to offer. Guatemalan rice porridge is yummy and also their corn on a stick or sandwiches with fresh meat are making my stomach rumbling. Walking over a random street market makes me want to try it all. From the tostadas with noodles on it or the rellenitos which are the Guatemalan donuts from fried plantain. As often as possible I’m ending my street food tour with a cup of hot chocolate and it never lets me down. Not for nothing were the Mayans the ones who called the cacao bean ‘the food of the gods’.
But after a couple of days hanging around and trying almost any dish I can find, I start to miss my veggies. That’s when I’m going to eat at Yolanda’s.
Eating at a local in Guatemala
Yolanda is a proudly Guatemalan woman, living in the suburb of the popular touristic hotspot Antigua. More local you cannot go and it’s nice to get out of the bustling streets of Antigua. The suburb is not any interesting to tourists, but this is where the locals live and hang. Calling Yolanda’s name in the town puts a smile on people’s faces. Also, they are happy to show me which house I have to enter.
Yolanda recently started to work with ResiRest, and couldn’t be more cheerful. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, I already find her working in the kitchen. She welcomes me with a big smile and a loving hug only moms can do. She instantly makes me feel at home and starts to talk about Guatemalan life. I’m more than eager to absorb everything she says. And with my freshly learned Spanish, she makes me feel comfortable and is patiently explaining it all.
Guatemalan food at it’s best
After I have learned more about Guatemalan culture than if I would hang a night in a hostel, I met her son. A cute boy with a fresh new haircut who stayed home for the occasion. Sunday is normally the day of the grandparents, but he wanted to see how this visitor likes his house. And his mom’s kitchen experience, of course.
And oh yes, I like it! Yolanda has made by far the best local veggie dish I have eaten in Guatemala. All kinds of vegetables fresh from the market are entering my plate and are happily finding a way to my stomach. Fresh guacamole, local potatoes and some kind of cucumber I have never eaten before. All this mixed with some good herbs makes my stomach be crazy happy and healthy. Yeey, for tasty local experiences!
Traveling through Guatemala…
Traveling through Guatemala is by no exception a wonderful experience. You will hike through remote mountains, sit and dance in nice cafés and explore a country influenced by it’s Mayan and Spanish heritage. From remote beaches to fire-spitting volcano’s. An enormous big lake and rivers bluer than blue. Smiling ladies and helpful men. You can easily spend weeks and weeks traveling through Guatemala.
But nothing beats those local experiences. Where someone opens their house for you and you can sit and share a healthy (!) meal together. Where you learn about the real local life. I couldn’t be happier than having Yolanda as my cook, storyteller, Spanish teacher and Guatemalan friend. I can only say: muchas gracias y hasta luego!
About the author
“Why you should eat Guatemalan food” is written by Jolande Louis. As a freelance text writer, she travels around the world and shares her experiences. Find more of her stories on her Dutch Blog.
ResiRest connects travelers and locals worldwide. Learn more about ResiRest at Guatemala right here. Think local, eat global.