A Brief History of the Tortilla
Tortillas are a staple in Mexican and Central American cuisine. These thin, unleavened flatbreads are typically made from either corn maize or flour, and they’re used in a variety of ways.
We all know the tortilla basics, but what about their history? Where are they from, and how were they named?
According to legend, tortillas were invented by a Mayan peasant for his hungry king. The first recorded use of tortillas dates to roughly 10,000 BC, and were made from corn. And when the Spanish arrived, they discovered native inhabitants like the Aztecs and others all ate some sort of maize bread.
The Spanish gave this bread it’s current name, tortilla, from the Spanish word meaning “little cake.” This relates back to southern Spain, where it has Arabic roots from thin round crisps made from ground chickpeas.
Selecting and Serving Tortillas
There are a few important factors when selecting and serving tortillas. Let’s take a brief look at the important ones.
Size – For starters, tortillas come in different sizes that are ideal for certain applications. Whether you’re creating a burrito or a soft taco, the different sizes can impact the success of your dish. Everyone’s been in the situation where your tortilla is too small or you put too much in it, only to find that it spills out all over your plate.
Ingredients – Tortillas are made from either corn maize or wheat, and each has a place. When fried, corn tortillas are pre-meal appetizer while flour tortillas are often covered with sugar and honey as dessert. Corn and flour also offer different flavor profiles during the main course of the meal, and maybe even more important, having both on hand allows diners with gluten allergies to eat a safe meal.
Preference – The reality is the corn/flour debate really comes down to a matter of preference. Both can be used in traditional dishes, however preference depends upon taste.
Serving – Tortillas should be served properly. Whether it’s corn tortillas in your standard chicken enchilada or flour tortillas with everyone’s favorite Tex-Mex fajitas, they should be cooked or kept at ideal serving temperatures.
This makes Mexican restaurant equipment important to properly serve Mexican cuisine. Things to consider are tortilla warmers, cast iron handle covers for tortillas, stylish serving dishes for guacamole, and chip baskets for fried tortillas.
Alto-Hartley has a full selection of Mexican restaurant supplies in our showroom. Stop by to stock up for your foodservice establishment, or come in as a home chef looking for an authentic Mexican restaurant experience in your own home.