Here in the village of Mascota the tortillas were made by hand. Our guide told us a sad story about how poor his family was; the only thing they had to eat was tortillas with salt. Then he had us try these handmade corn tortillas with salt and we no longer felt sorry for him – they were so delicious! Tortillas start with a ball of masa dough in a tortilla press.Tortilla-making machine in Mexico City.Translation:
- Tortillas don’t make you fat (only 50 calories per tortilla)
- Rich in calcium and fiber
- Contain vitamins and minerals
Tortillas accompany most meals served warm in a basket.If you have spent any time in Mexico you will realize that ultimately these tortillas translate into tacos, flautas, chilaquiles, quesadillas, totopes, tortilla soup and more.
Tacos pastor, my favourite type of taco, here served with extra cheese and fresh pineapple in Marquelia.Codzitos, tortillas that are rolled tightly and deep-fried until crispy, then slathered with a tomato-based sauce and grated ‘queso de bolo’ (Edam cheese). Flautas are very similar, only not so tightly rolled as they are filled with savoury ingredients before being fried.Enchiladas are larger tortillas rolled up after being filled with meat and then baked. They are the full meal deal – arriving smothered in salsa (enchiladas verdes in green sauce, enchiladas roja in red sauce, enchiladas suiza in Swiss cheese and onions), and usually accompanied by rice, beans and a salad. Shrimp & cheese quesadillas with guacamole on the beach in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Quesadillas are the Mexican version of grilled cheese sandwiches and even the simplest version will taste great with a little salsa verde on it. Ceviche, fish and or seafood is ‘cooked’ in lime juice along with onion, jalapeño, tomatoes, cilantro and a slice of avocado, is usually served on a tostada, a small crispy tortilla. Salbutes are tasty treats that consist of thick hand-made tortillas topped with pulled chicken (marinated in bitter orange and achiote paste), lettuce, tomatoes, ‘pickled’ onions, avocados and jalapeños. (For more on how to make them.) Day-old tortillas are cut into strips and then deep-fried into perfect crunchiness to put into tortilla soup, also known as Sopa de azteca. Another use for left-over tortillas are totopes, tortillas cut into quarters and then deep fried. Here they are served with guacamole in Cafe Tacuba, one of the oldest restaurants in Mexico City. Totopes are the authentic Mexican version of nacho chips.For an authentic Mexican breakfast try chilaquiles. These are layers of crunchy cut-up tortillas in a spicy tomato sauce topped with cebollas (onions) and queso (cheese) and/or crema (cream), sometimes served with various meats or an egg.
If you’re making your tortillas by hand and you have some leftover masa you can use it for tamales, which come in both sweet and savoury versions.Mexicans have this thing for drinks with ‘texture’. Atole is a drink with cornmeal, and typically cinnamon and vanilla. This one was handed to Al as the locals were making huge garlands of fruit for a festival. It had cocoa in it along with the cornmeal.