Now Serving Maya Heritage: Culinary Tourism in Yaxunah, Yucatan, Mexico

Traci Ardren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Despite centuries of colonialism, Yucatec Maya women and men retain a rich body of specialized culinary practices with roots in the pre-Columbian past. Recently this intangible heritage has become the focus of a variety of forms of culinary tourism, some of which are local enterprises that bring much needed cash into small rural communities. This article presents details about how a small group of women in the Yucatec-Maya speaking village of Yaxunah formed a cooperative to prepare “Maya” meals for visitors. They debate the relative authenticity of the dishes they serve as they negotiate the interests of tourists, economic pressures, and competing claims to heritage. Foodways are a powerful means by which local Maya communities construct and maintain a social identity distinct from dominant national discourse and globalized dietary trends. Likewise household gardens provide a site for the contestation of globalizing forces and the preservation of Maya cultural values. By positioning landscape features and cultural knowledge related to the intangible heritage of Maya culinary traditions within the worldwide tourism industry, this small group of indigenous women present a powerful lesson in adaptation to modern global forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-312
Number of pages23
JournalFood and Foodways
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018


  • Gender
  • heritage
  • household gardens
  • identities
  • Maya
  • tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Health(social science)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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