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Tortillas
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-10-31 19:49:56 | Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Keywords: bread, food
One of the staples of Mexican food is the tortilla. You will find it in various forms and sizes in most of Mexican dishes. It can be made of flour, corn or maseca. They are available warm or cold at many locations anywhere... and accompany most dishes in restaurants, in addition to be the support for tacos of course. The most common form is a 12 cm (5 inches) or 15 cm (6 inches) round flat pieces, but they can come in a variety of sizes (I've seen up to 35 cm) depending on the machine or pressing device used.

When they are bought fresh they are very soft. If you buy them from a local tortilleria, they'll probably still be warm and stay that way for many hours if carefully wrapped. In restaurants they are sometimes made to order or bought from a tortilleria... and then re-heated with steam to keep them all soft. They can also be heated on a plate to toast them and then they get a whole different flavour and become rigid, as most Mexican re-heat them at home, for simplicity.

The process to make tortillas begins by making the masa... which is basically a corn dough. That this obtained by cooking dry corn in lime water, then soak it overnight. This soaking will break down some proteins of the corn and make it easier to manipulate and digest. The corn kernels are then crushed into a paste. Some salt and some bakery powder is added to the mix. The end colour would range from white to yellow... depending on the corn used. That masa can be bought bulk in most tortillerias, where you can also get the final product: the corn tortillas. If doing it at home, there are some masa powder that can be used (it's made out of masa that has been dried and reduced in powder).

The best tortillas will be done with freshly made masa on site. Some places will use flour instead of masa and make their dough from that. If they use white wheat flour, they will make 'harina' tortillas. They will rarely use whole wheat flour. They can also start with corn flour.

The equipment to make tortillas is simple. Once you have your dough, you put it on top of a machine that will portion it and spread it flat on a hot metal conveyer plate where the tortilla will be cooked. The tortilla will then switch onto another conveyer belt... at which end there's a chute for the tortillas to pile up in a stacker.

Mexicans use tortillas not only as a bread but also as an instrument to eat food. They tear out a piece of tortilla out and use it to grab some food on their plate or bowl.


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