The Noble Little Tortilla

We are obsessed with food, aren’t we? I was at a dinner party recently during which not one single subject other than food was discussed at the dinner table during the entire two hours and change that I was trapped there. Still, one cannot expect everybody to have read the same book recently or watched the same movie, I guess. But everybody eats. It is something they have in common.

I have really never been all that interested in food as some sort of art form. Food intake is a necessary waste of time before getting on with it. But getting the hang of food here has been interesting for me. What can I say?

Before I leave the subject of food entirely alone forever, I wish to pay tribute to the lowly tortilla. It is a staple here obviously. It is utterly beautiful in its simplicity. Therein lies the appeal for me. When you are served a meal at a restaurant here, you are normally given a basket of warm tortillas. One can take whatever is on your plate, fold some of it up in a tortilla, and eat it that way.

I now purchase my tortillas at a tortilleria very much like the one shown above. No need to go inside the tortilleria. At mine, a grumpy old lady stands at a window counter with scales on it open to the street. Mexicans cue up late in the afternoon on the sidewalk to purchase stacks of fresh tortillas on the way home. Many times I get in the cue with them, and purchase a dozen, which are then wrapped in paper.

Purchasing at a tortilleria gives you tortillas that are still warm when you purchase them at rush hour. Grab a chunk of great cheese on the way home, and you are eating simple quesadillas made with tortillas that were prepared less than thirty minutes before you eat them. A different experience compared to eating them out of a resealable plastic bag, I can assure you. These freshly prepared tortillas are so good plain that I eat a few right out of my grocery bag on the walk back.

I am still partial to flour tortillas, but more and more I am purchasing corn tortillas for a little change of pace. You can wrap anything and everything in the damned things and eat it. Anything and everything that is otherwise edible. However, my hamburger intake is pretty much at nil now. Playing with hamburger here is playing with fire, particularly in hot weather. I consider it to be on a par with roadkill. So my basic filling is pretty much cheese, many times garnished with whatever else that is left around the place that has not turned.

Just heat the omelet-sized cast iron skillet up moderately. No oil or other grease necessary. Warm them until they are a little brown. Thoreau suggested that we simplify. The tortilla is one way to tackle that.

Don’t ask me what this has to do with tortillas. . .or with Thoreau for that matter.

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