Sunday, June 5, 2011

Homemade tortillas - You can do it!

Last year Richard and I planned a trip to Costa Maya, Mexico among other places. As part of our plans, we scheduled a day to go into a small village and have lunch with the locals. What we ended up with was much more than that.

If you've never heard of Costa Maya, that's probably because there is NOTHING there. Literally. We boarded a van and drove about 45 minutes North to a small village of Mayan descendants. We bounced along the dirt roads and as we reached our destination, we were inundated with the smells of chicken and peppers.

We walked though the garden at the front of the house and were greeted warmly by a couple of lovely ladies in brightly colored dresses. The 'house' was a small straw and mud structure with large openings on either side.

We sat at a small table while an older woman taught us to shape and cook tortillas. She didn't speak any English but she gestured very directly. If your tortilla was no good, she simply shook her head and slapped it back down on the table.

The tortillas are made from finely ground corn flour called Masa. It has a different flavor and texture than cornmeal, so don't try to cheat! You can purchase Masa at most grocery stores in the Ethnic foods or Chinese/Mexican section. All you have to do is follow the directions on the bag. Basically, you mix the Masa with water until it is the consistency of soft play dough. Roll it into a small ball and then press it flat with your fingers.

The ladies that made us lunch told us that when a girl in the village is able to make a perfect tortilla, then she is ready for marriage. I made one on my first try. ;)

After your tortilla is shaped, cook it on a dry skillet or griddle over high heat. It should start to bubble a little. Once it does, flip it over and let it bubble a little more. Your skillet should be hot enough that you get a nice browning very quickly.

In Mexico, we cooked ours over an open fire but you don't have to go that far. You can also fry them instead to make crunchy tortillas for chips or tacos. So don't be afraid! Go get yourself some Masa and impress your friends with homemade tortilla chips at your next party.

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