Tortillas are essential icon in Mexican gastronomy

El Universal brings us an interesting article about one of the most exquisite and essential Mexican gastronomy icons: Tortillas. 

“And thus they found the food, and this was what entered into the flesh of created man, of the made man; this was his blood, of this the blood of man was made. Thus the maize entered into his formation by the work of the Forefathers.”

So it says the Popol Vuh about the creation of humans.

Accordingly, tortilla could be considered, not only a part, but the very foundation of the Mexican gastronomy.

(The Popol Vuh is the story of creation according to the Maya. Translated as `The Council Book’, ‘The Book of the People’ or, literally, ‘The Book of the Mat’, the work has been referred to as “The Mayan Bible” although this comparison is imprecise).

This combination of corn, salt, and water was created in pre-Hispanic times and with the more than 50 varieties of maize existing in Mesoamerica, it was more than likely that it was used as food by the ancient settlers. It is said that its exact origin was in Tlaxcala, since in Náhuatl this means “place where they make tortillas or house of the tortillas.”

The elaboration of tortillas has remained unchanged to date, especially in rural places. This elaboration begins with nixtamalization, which consists of cooking the corn grain in water with tequesquite, a natural mineral salt also calledquicklime. It is then allowed to rest for 12 to 14 hours in such a way that the grain separates from its hull, which is removed by rinsing, before grinding it and giving it form with the hands or a press to finish cooking it in a comal, a smooth, flat griddle.

(El Universal)

This process was modernized in 1904 by Mexican Everardo Rodríguez Arce and his partner Luis Romero, who created the first semi-automatic tortilla machine, which curiously made square tortillas. Over time, the machines improved until they reached the current ones, which operate in a fully automatic way.

White or criollo corn is the most used for making tortillas although they are also made with yellow, blue or red corn. In some cases, ingredients are added to change its flavor, color and even texture, such as nopal or different types of chili. The wheat flour tortilla is a northern variant and is known worldwide as the tortilla for burritos.

In Mexico, tortilla consumption has increased: from 159 pounds (72,1 kg) per person a year in 2000 to 187 pounds (85 kg) in 2015.

Despite having a high amount of calories, tortillas are low in fat, contain no cholesterol and sugar, and have a high content of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Plus, they are gluten free.

The price of tortilla in recent years remained the same until 2016, when, due to the price increase of fuel, the kilo of tortilla was especially high in northern states such as Baja California, Colima, Guerrero, Quintana Roo and Yucatán.