It’s not a major scandal, but it’s certainly an escándalo delicioso.
As Motul gets ready for its Huevos Motuleños festival, a newspaper is dishing out a years-old debate that questions the city’s claim on dish.
Diario de Yucatán re-published a 1990 interview that suggests the concoction really originates in Telchac Puerto.
But they’re not called “Huevos Telchac Puertoleños.”
According to popular lore, in the early 1920s, the governor and revolutionary leader Felipe Carrillo Puerto visited a cenote in the area and unexpectedly decided to eat in Motul, along with his companions.
The Lebanese-Yucatec chef Jorge Siqueff, who was traveling with them, and short on dinnerware, decided to condense all the food he had planned to serve separately into a single dish: fried eggs, beans, tomato sauce and peas.
“Motuleño eggs are part of the history of Mexico, part of the history of Yucatán. They were born from a meal that Don Felipe Carrillo Puerto had, with Don José Vasconselos, Diego Rivera and other great personalities of that time, we are talking about 1922, 1923,” said Evelia Sánchez, a Mayan cook from Motul.
An alternative story doesn’t argue with its Lebanese connection, but places its origins 27 kilometers/17 miles away.
Carlos Saidén Isaac, a Yucatec of Lebanese origin who contributed a part of the recipe, told Diario in 1990 that it was he who improvised the dish for a later governor, Governor Álvaro Torre Díaz, and other guests at a hacienda in Telchac Puerto.
“The famous Yucatecan chef Olegario Katún and I started thinking about what to do for the food,” he said. “It was first spoken of fried eggs, but they required a garnish (accompaniment, sauce, etc.) that we called “adornment” at the time.”
Then, according to Saidén Isaac, “it occurred to us to put on a fried tortilla a couple of starry eggs, covered with another tortilla and all this sprinkled with black beans, strained and thick, and tomato salsa that must be natural and not canned, so it tastes good.”
“Then, to complete it,” he specifies, “Katún and I chose fine ham, grated cheese and peas. Over the years the recipe has been improved and now beets, carrots, two slices of fried plantain are placed on one side and sprinkled with cheese.”
From the fortunate success of creating this simple and tasty mix, Saidén decided to open the restaurant Siqueff in Motul.
Saidén Isaac recalled that many people traveled 44 km/27 miles to Siqueff from Mérida for lunch or breakfast.
Today the dish is a tourist favorite. Even with all the ingredients that go into it, he said that the key to good Huevos Motuleños is the salsa.
The salsa should be made with a sauteed onion, tomato and chopped garlic, with little fat. In his kitchen, a large pot was prepared the day’s orders. Balancing the ingredients is also important. The “hand of the cook” is the one that finds the “point” of the sauce for Motuleño eggs, he said.
Not so fast, says another newspaper
A history column in La Voz de Motul took issue with Diario’s coverage.
No records were found of Saiden Issac as a cook, according to the column, written in 2016. The column even finds flaws in how Diario described its recipe.
As businessmen, Siqueff and Saiden Isaac promoted Motuleño eggs, but they used a recipe from Siqueff’s wife, Margarita Alonzo Villanueva, with help from the cook, Olegario Kantún.
“It is undeniable that Jorge Siqueff and Carlos Saiden worked together for a while,” the column states.
Siqueff was the one who most worked promoting Huevos Motuleño, both from his restaurant La Sin Rival, as well as in special events such as Rotary dinners, and as far away as Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen. He also taught multiple cooking courses in Cancun and the Riviera Maya through the Secretary of Tourism.
“Jorge and Carlos fought. … They distanced themselves without resolving the paternity of Huevos Motuleño that once they dreamed up together. The collective memory of Motul relates three ingredients well: Jorge Siqueff, La Sin Rival and Huevos Motuleños.”
“The truth is that Huevos Motuleños are a dish born on this earth and rooted in the feeling of identity of the Motulian. It is an expression of the fusion of Mayan and Lebanese food. Huevos Motuleños are a symbol of our identity,” wrote Valerio Buenfil in the La Voz de Motul.