The cuisine of Yucatán may seem remote and exotic, but you can become pretty good at it in just four short classes. These will take place in August at the Mercado La Paloma, which is celebrating the month of Yucatán in partnership with Chichén Itzá restaurant.

Gilberto Cetina of Chichén Itzá and his son, Gilberto Jr., will teach. They’ll reveal restaurant secrets such as how to make their signature habanero salsa. That’s class two, on August 12. It took Gilberto Sr. four years to perfect the recipe. “Even if you know how to make it, you have to invest a lot of time. Not many people have the time to do this,” Cetina says.


panucho; Credit: Barbara Hansen

panucho; Credit: Barbara Hansen

The first class, August 5, will cover how to make achiote paste, which is the foundation of 30% of all Yucatecan dishes, including cochinita pibil, pollo pibil and tamales, Cetina says.

On August 19, the topic will be how to make the corn tortillas used for panuchos. These are slit, stuffed with black bean paste, cooked on a comal and then topped with turkey or chicken and garnishes that include lettuce, tomato and pickled red onions.

The final class on August 26 will present one of Yucatán’s most famous dishes, cochinita pibil, which is pork seasoned with achiote paste, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pit in the ground. The chefs will show how to assemble the dish and cook it in a home oven in a casserole or Dutch oven lined with banana leaves.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes: Chichen Itza's Cochinita Pibil

The one-hour classes are limited to 20 students and are free. Yes, free. They will take place at 6 p.m. at the restaurant, which is inside the Mercado La Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave. in downtown Los Angeles. To enroll, call Chichén Itzá at (213) 741-1075.

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