Friday, December 2, 2011

Homemade Tortillas (Kaitelyn and Stacey)

In Latin America, food is a way of connecting with other people. Cooking, and ingredients more specifically, are staples in Latin American homes. Tortillas are commonly made as part of tradition and a way for people to connect in the kitchen.  Tortillas are a type of flat bread made from corn, hot water and putting force on the tortilla to roll in into a flat, thin pancake. Tortillas are used as a main food base in the Hispanic culture since it can be used in making enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos which are commonly cooked in the Hispanic community. It can be guessed that tortillas are very popular because of the convenience of the supplies needed to make it. The primary ingredients used to make this delicious flat bread are flour, salt, lard, and baking powder – most of which can be found in most kitchens in Latin America.
            To make flour tortillas, we first started out with the basic ingredients: 4 cups of harina (all-purpose flour); 1 teaspoon sal (salt); 2 teaspoons polvo de hornear (baking powder); 2 tablespoons grasa (lard); 1 ½ cups of agua (water) (All Recipes). From here, we mixed the flour, salt and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Next we added the lard to the bowl and had to use our hands to mix the dough since it became very sticky. We felt we had to add a little more water because it was sticking to our hands too much to even be able to make it into little balls to roll. However, the dough came out quite nicely and we were able to move onto the next step.
            We then got a clean cutting board used flour to lightly coat the board so that the dough wouldn’t stick to the board as we rolled the dough into a thin pancake-like form. We didn’t have a rolling pin available so we used a cylinder thermos since that was the next best thing we had and rolled the dough from the middle of the ball to the edges to make sure that it was evenly flattened and that the edges weren’t too thick or too thin.
            Next, we preheated a small skillet on the stove top. The recipe required a large skillet but we figured we were going to make smaller tortillas anyway, so a smaller pan was just fine. One by one, we placed tortillas on the skillet after we rolled them and waited until the dough became bubbly and crispy. Then we used a spatula to flip the tortilla like a pancake and allow the other side to bubble and golden. It didn’t take more than a minute or two on each side to achieve the desired outcome. Once they were cooked, we stacked them on a plate and moved onto the next tortilla until the dough was gone.
            Clean-up was a little rough since flour can be a little bit messy and we found that the uncooked dough stuck to everything! It was hard to get the dough off our fingers never mind off the pans and measuring cups. Ultimately, we decided we preferred the store-bought tortillas to the ones we made. We thought they tasted too doughy and thick, and that they took much longer to make than expected. If we had a recipe that required tortillas, we decided it would take too long to make tortillas and then make a recipe to go along with it. It took nearly an hour to get from the starting point to having the stack of tortillas cooked and ready to go. Additionally, it is our opinion that store-bought tortillas are much easier, quicker, cleaner and tastier than this recipe.
            In Latin American culture, however, cooking and cleaning is not thought of as a chore or as something that has to be sped up by buying convenience foods. In actuality, as mentioned by Maite Zubiarre in the article “Culinary Eros in Contemporary Hispanic Female Fiction: From Kitchen Tales to Table Narratives”, tortillas are not just a food but they also symbolize a way women could get together and talk about their issues. Latin American women take pride in the cooking and use it as a way to get together with other women and feel empowered by following recipes and traditions that their ancestors had.
            In the movie “Like Water for Chocolate,” Tita is seen grinding dough on the ground which can be assumed to be a tortilla because it is a common part of Latin American dishes, later people ask her, what her secret ingredient is and she states “Love”. Since the connection between cooking, loving and living seem to be a theme in this movie; it seems that this is because it is reality for thousands of women in Latin America. By sharing recipes, women are more likely to share much more than just that but life experience, stories, advice and so much more.
            Nacha and Tita’s relationship in the movie illustrates this connection perfectly. Since Nacha is Tita’s prime caretaker throughout her youth, she is able to provide Tita with the love and support that Mama Elena neglects to provide for her. Nacha does this through the homemade recipes in the movie. Tita passes this tradition down to her niece in a similar manner by showing love, affection and support through recipes for her. There is always a relationship between Hispanic women and their food. Similar to what Zubiarre stated in the aforementioned article, and how Tita puts so much effort, dedication and love into her recipes.

Works Cited
“Summary of Culinary History.” Cambridge World History of Food. 2000. 107. Print.
"Mexico." Brittannica Online Academic Edition. n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.  <>
"Baking (cooking)." Brittannica Online Academic Edition. n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2011. <>
"Mesoamerica from the Article Origins of Agriculture." Brittannica Online Academic Edition. n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.  <>
Mikall Martinez, Jamie. "Authentic Mexican Tortillas Recipe -" - Recipes, Menus, Meal Ideas, Food, and Cooking Tips. All Recipes. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <>.
"Tortilla Crisis." Alternatives Journal 33.1 (2007): 7. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.
Zubiaurre, Maite. "Culinary Eros in Contemporary Hispanic Female Fiction: from Kitchen Tales to Table Narratives." College Literature 33.3 (2006): 29+. Academic OneFile. Web. 2 Nov. 2011.

No comments:

Post a Comment