If you fancy eating some pib during Day of the Dead celebrations, Kanasín, Yucatán, might be the place to go. And there ought to be plenty of it.
Day of the Dead celebrations being just three weeks away, the people of Kanasín are gearing up to hold their second annual Nohoch Pib, an event created last year by the municipal government to boost tourism.
Focus of the event is a traditional tamal-like dish known as pib or pibe.
What will set the November 4 event apart will be the pib‘s sheer magnitude: organizers expect to break last year’s record and serve 4,500 slices of the traditional Yucatán dish.
The Nohoch Pib event is part of the state-wide exposition known as Redescubre Yucatán, or Rediscover Yucatán.
“It is very important to preserve our traditions and we’re very proud to be part of this event, to promote Kanasín with its cuisine and the warmth of its people,” said Mayor Carlos Moreno Magaña.
Last year’s pib was 120 meters long. This year’s goal is 150 meters. It will take 680 kilograms of corn dough, 450 kilos of chicken, 450 kilos of pork, 65 kilos of tomatoes, 65 kilos of onions, 1,200 bundles of x’pelón — a local variety of black bean — and 500 bundles of banana leaves.
Cooking will start at 4:00am when a team of 50 cooks will start preparing the ingredients, which will them be cooked in the ovens of two bakeries and 42 homes.
The resulting 250 individual pieces of pib, each measuring 60 by 30 centimetres, will then be arranged as a 150-meter-long presentation of the dish.
The sheer size of the Nohoch Pib, a Maya term that literally means “great pib,” requires that conventional ovens be used to streamline the marathon cooking process, but the traditional way is to cook the dish in a pit oven, or a pib.
A fire is lit in the bottom of the pit and covered with stones that trap the heat. The dish is placed over the stones and covered with banana leaves, and the hole itself is covered until the cooking is done. For a traditional pib, that’s about 90 minutes.
While other Day of the Dead traditions are being slowly forgotten, such as creating altars for the dearly departed or organizing prayers for them, pib is still served throughout the state at this time of the year, said the director of Indemaya, the Institute for the Development of the Maya Culture of Yucatán State.
Rosario Cetina Amaya said Indemaya plans to launch a campaign designed to rescue and preserve the Maya tradition of Haanal Pixán, or food for the souls, as the altars are known in the region.
The November 4 event in Kanasín, a city and municipality located within the metropolitan area of Mérida, the state capital, will be held at the city’s Siglo XXI convention center.