Guatemalan Food: Patín

Rudy Giron: Guatemalan gastronomy &emdash; Guatemalan Food: Patín

Patín is quite possibly the most popular food found around the villages in Lake Atitlán. Hardly ever we can find patín in Antigua Guatemala, but sometimes you find that the handicraft vendors from Lago Atitlán bring it with them as their food for the day. Rarely, the actual vendors of patín come to La Antigua Guatemala to sell this pre-Columbian Maya dish, although I have seen them a couple of times and actually bought an order. Patín is usually sold in tamal-size portions, even wrapped with raw plantain leaves, just like a tamal.

Today’s information comes from the excellent researched done by long time loyal reader of AntiguaDailyPhoto, RWorange, found at her favourite foodie forum, Chowhound.

According to Copeland Marks in the Guatemalan cookbook “False Tongues and Sunday Bread” …

“Patín is the typical popular dish of this village on the southern shores of Lake Atitlan. The various inlets of the shoreline are breeding places of the local lake fish, and are caught and dried in quantities”

The recipe is simple: dried local lake minnows, ripe tomatoes, hot chile (dried or fresh), salt. Another recipe added onions to the patín.

“Patin has been on the Guatemalan diet from pre-Colombian times.

It starts off with a tomato sauce made from boiled tomatoes that are then stone ground. To this sauce is added small fish from rivers or creeks seasoned with salt and lime and roasted on an open fire hearth. The dish is sold wrapped in maxan or plantain leafs in most markets for about three to six quatzales per portion. The dish is especially popular with the Tz’utujil folk that inhabit the area.

Patin is also prepared using game meat and sometimes served with home made corn tortillas. Because of the condiments and preparation it can last a few days without refrigeration”

Though the fish is most common almost any meat can be used. This blog with photo of an egg version writes:

“This is what they call the most traditional food from Tz’utujul city. It is a delicous meal/snack that someone brings on every monitoring trip that we do. It is made with omelet, beef, chicken, whole fish, or sardines in a tomato sauce wrapped in an extra big leaf. It is opened up and everyone digs in with their tortillas that come wrapped in the colorful cloths. “

If you want to read the entire entry on patín and look at other supporting photographs, follow the white rabbit.

© 2015, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • Anne Gerhardt

    This is really interesting, Rudy. I’ve never noticed the indigenous people at the lake eating patin, but I’m going up there later this month and I will look specifically for it. I learn something new about Guatemala every day….this country is endlessly fascinating! We must meet for lunch one day soon!