Living in New York City, provides me with the opportunity to try out so many amazing Mexican restaurants. But before I made my way to these wonderful places, I decided to get a better understanding of how exactly the most important ingredient is created. After all, what is a taco without a tortilla? So, I took a trip to my local Tortilleria, which is a shop that strictly sells fresh Tortillas. As I stepped into Tortilleria Oaxaca, the scent of fresh masa filled my nostrils.
I walked up to the counter and immediately focused in on the huge Tortilla Maker. It was an intriguing machine I had never seen before. I ordered one pound of tortillas which only cost about 1.95! Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late and missed the process of forming the tortillas themselves, and therefore was handed piping hot tortillas from a giant previous batch. I continued my research on one of the most reliable sources… you guessed it…The internet! Step one, in the birth of a tortilla: Nixtamalization. I know what you’re thinking..NixtamaWHO?! BUT STAY WITH ME!
Nixtamalization comes from the Aztec words Nextli or “ashes” and tamale meaning “unformed maize dough”. The process simply entails cooking and steeping dried corn kernels in lime (calcium hydroxide.). It affects the smell, color, texture, and even the shelf life of the end product. The masa is then formed into tortillas by hand or using a press. After, they are cooked on a hot stove and used in or served with various dishes. Most people find it easier to skip the Nixtamalization process by using prepackaged masa which can be equally delicious. As for me? I lugged my bag of fresh tortillas home AND VOILA LA Dia de las Tortillas (the day of the tortillas) continued on!