If pasta is to Italian, if baguette is to French, if sushi is to Japanese. It is right to say that tortilla is to Latin Americans. When you say tortilla many or most will connect it right away only with the Mexicans, though the origin or history of tortilla came from Mexico, tortilla covers a range of Latin American countries wherein it is massively consumed every day. Some tortillas are made from flour but the authentic way to have it is the one made from corn.
Today, for commercial production of tortillas an automatic machine is used but even with modern technology, making tortilla by hand still exists in every country in Latin America most especially in rural areas like in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador etc. If you go to a “tortilleria” (a shop which sells freshly made tortilla) every piece will be carefully handcrafted by women. At home, a mother will start her day early just to prepare the “masa” by grinding the soaked corn kernels in a stone slab before she actually cooks them. Also, it is not just the simple ingredients of tortilla but the consistency of the mixture is very important. Cooking them in a griddle or comal in Spanish in a wood fire takes a lot of skills to produce a perfect tortilla. When the “masa” is ready, the woman will get just the right amount and make it into golf size ball. And then she will place the “masa” between her wet hands and pat it until it becomes into an evenly thin pancake style. Once done, she will place it right away into the griddle and cook it both sides. With her bare hand she will flip the tortilla in a perfect timing. For sure, if you have ever eaten a freshly made tortilla right off the griddle you know how delicious it is. Passing the skill of tortilla making to a young girl takes years of practice to learn the secret of making a perfect tortilla. And every day will be the same process, for having tortilla is part of everyday meal most especially during lunch in Latin American culture.
With globalization, tortillas are now easily accessible and consumed not only by Latin Americans but also by rest of the world. It is now mass-produced and widely available. However, as the saying goes “nothing beats the original”. Also, it is still nice to eat something that is carefully prepared and done with perfection especially in a fast-paced generation. So the next time you have the chance to eat fresh tortillas…have it and indulge.
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Con mucho amor,