Suvanique is a celebratory dish that has gone mainstream, at least in its native land. Especially when prepared for a big occasion, a traditional Guatemalan suvanique includes two or more meats that are set into a vessel lined with enormous, emerald green mashan leaves; the leaves are tied shut, then the vessel is filled with water and set into a fire pit, where the dish steams for many hours. Though I'm sure that my humble chicken suvanique ($7) was cooked on a stovetop, and in an unlined pot, given the ample accompaniments of salad, rice, and (not shown) black beans and soft, fat tortillas, for a midday meal I didn't want for more.
The dish is spelled at least four different ways at neighboring establishments. "Suban-ik" is closer to a baseline version; the ending "ik" means "chili pepper" in Q'eqchi', a Mayan language still widely spoken in Guatemala. Despite the etymology, such dishes tend to be piquant rather than fiery.
Also shown: ponche (small, $1.50). Though a Thanksgiving turkey decoration was hanging on the wall, this Christmastime treat was already on offer in mid-November. (The pace of the holidays seems to be faster all over.) Ponche is both a drink and a dessert: After drinking off the thin liquid, you eat the fruits with a spoon. This batch was thin on spices but thick with fruit, including apple, plantain, pineapple, and raisins.
Delicias de Guatemala
300 Anderson Ave. (Cliff-Walker Sts.), Fairview, New Jersey