If you’ve ever been to Ka’ana you’ve seen the traditional Mayan fogon (aka kitchen) that sits just above our reception area. If you’re lucky, you’ve taken a private cooking class there from the one and only Ms. Clarita De La Fuente.
She’s given our guests a hands-on tour of Mayan culture through the food of its people for years, and now she’s sitting down with us to talk about her history and what makes Mayan cuisine so special.
Tell us a bit about where you come from and your heritage.
Well, my grandfather was from Mexico while my grandmother was from Guatemala. Both of them were descendants of the Mayas. They settled in Belize and got married in Succotz Village near Ka’ana. I grew up learning all the traditional ways of the Maya people: the culture, the dances, the food.
How long have you been cooking and what made you interested in teaching others more about the Maya cuisine?
I’ve been cooking since I was a teenager and I’ve been cooking Maya cuisine for over 25 years now. It’s something I love so much because it allows me to show others how hard working my ancestors were and also gives me an opportunity to showcase my culture and talent.
What makes Maya cuisine so special? What would you say is your favorite dish?
For me, what makes the Maya cuisine special is the fact that we do not use a lot of ingredients to make our traditional dishes. Most, and in some cases all, of the ingredients are organic and natural. My favorite dish is the chicken tamales.
After interacting with so many guests, what would you say is their favorite part of the cooking class experience?
Throughout my years of working at Ka’ana, I would say the process of the corn – cleaning, grinding, prepping, wrapping – is the most fun. Many guests also love making the handmade tortillas.
What should guests expect when doing the Maya Cooking Class?
I would encourage guests to come with an open mind to have fun. You’ll learn and experience something unique and different!
Most of the time guests would expect us to use perfect utensils and non-organic ingredients and are amazed that we do everything the traditional way. It is a fun learning experience. They will get hands on knowledge and it’s different than any other adventure tour they’ll do during their vacation.
Clarita’s class remains one of our most popular tours year after year for good reason – and you don’t even have to leave the Ka’ana grounds!
Ready to roll up your sleeves and dig deeper into the Maya way of life? Talk to our team today to book your next trip!