Curso de Cocina Mexicana #1 / Did you say "tortilla"?

Today I decided to talk to you about one of the Mexican food bases. It’s funny because I exchanged with some Mexican friends about what, according to them, was the “essential” of the Mexican cooking and they all gave me an interminable list! This means that I will have to write a lot of articles about Mexican food! I will simply start by the “tacos”, or rather the “tortillas” and all what we can do with them. Of course we can prepare tacos but variants are infinite.

First of all, what is a “tortilla”? This is a type of thin and round Mexican bread, made from maize or wheat flour, baked on a flat plate of iron. In restaurants and “taquerías” they generally ask you if you want tortilla “de maíz” or “de harina”. I personally prefer the second option, but the ones of maize are healthier. Historically tortillas were only made from maize. But during the colonization, Spanish introduced the bread made from wheat and they applied it for the preparation of tortillas.

Well okay, now we know what is a tortilla, great! But what do we do with them??? Many things!

  • Los Tacos

Tacos are rolled or folded tortillas that can be filled with an infinite variety of ingredients accompanied of salsa (almost always spicy). You generally have meat in tacos (beef, chicken, pork). But they can also be made of fish, beans and other food such as avocados, mushrooms, …

  • Las Quesadillas

Those are tortillas filled with cheese and then grilled.

  • Las Sincronizadas

They are exactly made like quesadillas but also have ham besides the cheese, and sometimes avocados.

  • Las Enchiladas

Those are rolled tortillas filled with any type of ingredients but usually containing meat (such as tacos), covered of sauce (roja, verde, en mole…). A variant is the “enchiladas suizas” where besides the green sauce we also add cheese cream.

  • Las Enfrijoladas y las Entomatadas

They are made on the same principle as the enchiladas but enveloped in beans for enfrijoladas and tomatoes for entomatadas.

  • Las Flautas

This meal is presented like enchiladas but the difference is that the tortilla is corned and rolled tightly, and then usually deep-fried.

  • Las Tostadas

In this case the tortilla is also fried but not folded. You eat it like a toast and they can be topped with any type of ingredients. Personally I really like them with fresh tuna and avocado.

  • Los Burritos

A burrito is actually a big taco. The tortilla is wrapped around a filling of beef, beans, cheese and others but it’s really consequent. Only for big hungers!

  • Las Sopes

Sopes are thick and small tortillas with vegetables and meat topping.

  • Las Gorditas

It definitely looks like a sope but the difference is that the gordita is like a pocket to garnish. Instead of putting the ingredients on the top, you put them inside of the small thick tortilla.

  • Las Fajitas

If I put fajitas at the end of this glossary it’s because it’s not that Mexican. It’s sold in Europe as a traditional Mexican dish (with all the marketing around it), however I would say that it’s more “Tex-Mex”, rather than purely Mexican.

Indeed, the food was popularized by various businesses in Houston, Austin and San Antonio in Texas. In Southern Arizona the term was unknown until the 1990’s when Mexican fast food restaurants started to use it in their marketing.

The word “fajitas” designates the little strips of meat cut from the beef. Actually you can find now any grilled meat. The plate is composed as followed: the stripes of meat that are generally accompanied of rice, peppers and cooked onions (but also sometimes of guacamole, tomatoes, cheese,). The whole is served with tortillas to garnish of fajitas.

  • Los Chilaquiles

At last there are also the chilaquiles but I dedicated an article to them here.

This is of course far to represent all the variety of the Mexican food but it’s an overview of what we can do with tortillas! And I probably forgot a lot. For sure I still have to learn about Mexico. I still have to taste Mexico!

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