A Gift of Homemade Corn Tortillas

May 30, 2012 · 3 comments

On Monday morning, a strange car pulled up our driveway. Unexpected visitors are rare around here, considering the fact that we’re at the dead end of a gravel road nearly a half-mile from our closest neighbors and miles from anywhere that any friends might happen to be visiting. Thankfully, we were all awake and fully clothed this time, and when I went out to see who had arrived, I was greeted by our friends Balbina and Maximo bearing a big bag of still-warm tortillas.

We have quite a few friends from Southern Mexico. Henry and I both speak Spanish fluently (though his Spanish is better than mine, and he can easily pass for a very pale Mexican), and we LOVE good authentic Mexican food. In rural Oaxaca, from where most of our Mexican friends migrated, there are no flour tortillas, only corn, but good corn tortillas are not the same as those wimpy little disks from the supermarket. In Oaxaca, corn tortillas are the size of a dinner plate and sometimes larger.

Balbina and her sister Eva are expert tortilla makers. They make them by hand a couple times a month, simply patting balls of masa between two pieces of plastic instead of opting to use a tortilla press. Their hands move quickly and deftly, producing hundreds of perfectly round, thin tortillas in no time. (One of these days, I’d like to photograph the tortilla makers in action, but it hasn’t happened yet.) Even though they use store-bought Maseca, their tortillas have great corn flavor and are large (about 9″ diameter) and pliable enough to burrito up just about any ingredients.

Though we weren’t expecting Balbina and Maximo, we welcomed them eagerly. Balbina didn’t want any money for her offerings, but after assessing our situation, we were able to talk her into taking home a dozen eggs, a frozen rack of goat ribs, and a branch off Henry’s avocado tree. (Avocado leaves are used in Mexican cooking). In my opinion, good corn tortillas are worth their weight in gold, so I think we got the better end of the deal, but I’m glad we didn’t send them off empty handed. For the last couple days, we’ve been eating fresh tortillas with eggs, with kale, with a spicy ground beef dish, and occasionally with peanut butter. They are the best you can get in this part of the country, and I am so grateful.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

RosaMaría May 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

corn tortillas are the best… one of my very loved memories about my childhood is think in my mom making tortillas for us in many dinners and breakfast… the real one are made with corn dough (no flour)…
you must try them with fried beans!

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Shauna in Texas May 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm

You speak Spanish fluently!? Could you *possibly* get any cooler?

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Nicole June 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I really hope I stumble across pictures/videos of the tortilla making process. That is something I would love to see!
-Nicole
Mercantile519

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