Tortilla

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Tortilla
Tortilla2.JPG
Type Flatbread
Place of origin Mesoamerica
Main ingredients Flour

A tortilla ( /tɔːrˈtə/ , Spanish:  [toɾˈtiʎa] ) is a type of thin, unleavened flatbread, typically made from corn or wheat. In Spanish, "tortilla" means "small torta ", or "small cake". It was first made by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica before European contact. The Aztecs and other Nahuatl speakers call tortillas tlaxcalli ( [t͡ɬaʃˈkalli] ). [1]

Flatbread type of bread

A flatbread is a bread made with flour, water and salt, and then thoroughly rolled into flattened dough. Many flatbreads are unleavened—although some are slightly leavened, such as pita bread.

Corn tortilla Unleavened flatbread made from ground corn (maize)

In North America and Central America, a corn tortilla or just tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flatbread, made from hominy. In Guatemala and Mexico, there are three colors of maize dough for making tortillas: white maize, yellow maize and blue maize.

Wheat tortilla type of soft, thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour

A flour tortilla is a type of soft, thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour from Mexico.

Contents

Tortilla is not to be confused with the Spanish omelette (known as tortilla española, tortilla de patatas, or tortilla de papas in Spanish) that is consumed in South America and Spain.

Spanish omelette potato dish

Spanish omelette is the English name for a traditional dish from Spanish cuisine called tortilla española, tortilla de patatas or tortilla de papas. It is an omelette made with eggs and potatoes, sometimes also with onion and/or chives or garlic; fried in oil and often served cold as an appetizer. It is part of the cuisine of Spain.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

South America A continent in the Western Hemisphere, and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere

South America is a continent in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It may also be considered a subcontinent of the Americas, which is how it is viewed in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas. The reference to South America instead of other regions has increased in the last decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.

Varieties

Corn tortilla

Tortillas made with maize (corn) are the oldest variety of tortilla, and remain very popular in Mexico and Central America.

Maize Cereal grain

Maize, also known as corn, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The leafy stalk of the plant produces pollen inflorescences and separate ovuliferous inflorescences called ears that yield kernels or seeds, which are fruits.

Mexico Country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the tenth most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Central America central geographic region of the Americas

Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.

Wheat tortilla

Wheat was not grown in the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans, but is a common source of flour for tortillas today.

Flour powder which is made by grinding cereal grains

Flour is a powder made by grinding raw grains, roots, beans, nuts or seeds. It is used to make many different foods. Cereal flour is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for most cultures. Wheat flour is one of the most important ingredients in Oceanic, European, South American, North American, Middle Eastern, North Indian and North African cultures, and is the defining ingredient in their styles of breads and pastries.

See also

Arepa typical food from Venezuela

Arepa is a type of food made of ground maize dough, originating from pre-Columbian northern region of South America, and is notable in the cuisines of Colombia and Venezuela.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Latin American cuisine broad culinary traditions

Latin American cuisine is the typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the countries and cultures in Latin America. Latin America is a highly diverse area of land that holds various cuisines that vary from nation to nation. Some items typical of Latin American cuisine include maize-based dishes arepas, pupusas, tacos, tamales, tortillas and various salsas and other condiments. These spices are generally what give the Latin American cuisines a distinct flavor; yet, each country of Latin America tends to use a different spice and those that share spices tend to use them at different quantities. Thus, this leads for a variety across the land. Sofrito, a culinary term that originally referred to a specific combination of sautéed or braised aromatics, exists in Latin American cuisine. It refers to a sauce of tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, garlic, onions and herbs.

Related Research Articles

Mexican cuisine culinary traditions of Mexico

Mexican cuisine began about 9,000 years ago, when agricultural communities such as the Maya formed, domesticating maize, creating the standard process of corn nixtamalization, and establishing their foodways. Successive waves of other Mesoamerican groups brought with them their own cooking methods. These included the Olmec, Teotihuacanos, Toltec, Huastec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomi, Purépecha, Totonac, Mazatec, and Mazahua.

Taco Traditional Mexican dish consisting of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling

A taco is a traditional Mexican dish consisting of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A taco can be made with a variety of fillings, including beef, pork, chicken, seafood, vegetables, and cheese, allowing great versatility and variety. Tacos are generally eaten without utensils, often garnished with salsa, chili pepper, avocado, guacamole, cilantro (coriander), tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.

Enchilada corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a chili pepper sauce

An enchilada is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling and covered with a chili pepper sauce. Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including various meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables or combinations. Originating in Mexico, enchiladas are a popular dish throughout Mexico and the American Southwest.

Tamale Traditional Mesoamerican dish

A tamale is a traditional Mesoamerican dish, probably from modern-day Mexico, made of masa or dough, which is steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. The wrapping can either be discarded prior to eating, or be used as a plate, the tamale eaten from within. Tamales can be filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chilies or any preparation according to taste, and both the filling and the cooking liquid may be seasoned.

Tostada (tortilla) flat or bowl-shaped tortilla that is deep fried or toasted

Tostada is a Spanish word meaning "toasted". In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, it is the name of various local dishes which are toasted or use a toasted ingredient as the main base of their preparation.

Quesadilla Mexican dish consisting of a tortilla filled with cheese and then grilled

A quesadilla, or sometimes specifically a cheese quesadilla, is a Mexican dish and type of taco, consisting of a tortilla that is filled primarily with cheese, and sometimes meats, beans, vegetables, and spices, and then cooked on a griddle. Traditionally, a corn tortilla is used, but it can also be made with a flour tortilla, particularly in northern Mexico and the United States.

Nixtamalization process of preparing corn to eat

Nixtamalization is a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, washed, and then hulled. This process is known to remove up to 97–100% of aflatoxins from mycotoxin-contaminated corn. The term can also refer to the removal via an alkali process of the pericarp from other grains such as sorghum.

Gordita food

A gordita in Mexican cuisine is a pastry made with masa and stuffed with cheese, meat, or other fillings. It is similar to a pasty and to the Colombian and Venezuelan arepa. Gordita means "chubby" in Spanish. There are two main variations of this dish, one which is typically fried in a deep wok-shaped comal, consumed mostly in central and southern Mexico, and another one baked on a regular comal. The most common and representative variation of this dish is the "gordita de chicharrón", filled with chicharron which is widely consumed throughout Mexico. Gorditas are often eaten as a lunch meal and accompanied by several types of sauce.

New Mexican cuisine cuisine originating from New Mexico

New Mexican cuisine is the cuisine of the Southwestern US state of New Mexico, the region is primarily known for its fusion of Pueblo Native American with Hispano Spanish and Mexican cuisine originating in Nuevo México. This cuisine had adaptions and influences throughout its history, including early on from the nearby Apache, Navajo, and throughout New Spain and the Spanish Empire, also from French, Italian, Mediterranean, Portuguese cuisine, and European cafés, furthermore during the American territorial phase from cowboy chuckwagons and Western saloons, additionally after statehood from Route 66 American diners, fast food restaurants, and global cuisine. Even so, New Mexican cuisine developed in fairly isolated circumstances, which has allowed it to maintain its indigenous, Spanish, and Mexican identity, and is therefore not like any other Latin food originating in the contiguous United States.

Sincronizada

In traditional Mexican cuisine, the quesadilla sincronizada is a tortilla-based sandwich made by placing ham and sometimes refried beans and chorizo and a portion of Oaxaca cheese between two flour tortillas. They are then grilled or even lightly fried until the cheese melts and the tortillas become crispy, cut into halves or wedges and served, usually with salsa and pico de gallo, avocado or guacamole on top and/or other toppings or condiments.

Honduran cuisine

Honduran cuisine is a fusion of indigenous (Lenca), Spanish, Caribbean and African cuisines. There are also dishes from the Garifuna people. Coconut and coconut milk are featured in both sweet and savory dishes. Regional specialties include fried fish, tamales, carne asada and baleadas. Other popular dishes include meat roasted with chismol and carne asada, chicken with rice and corn, and fried fish with pickled onions and jalapeños. In the coastal areas and the Bay Islands, seafood and some meats are prepared in many ways, including with coconut milk.

Totopo

Totopo, in Mexican cuisine, is a flat, round, or triangular corn product similar to a tortilla, that has been toasted, fried or baked, but it may be prepared with nixtamalized corn masa. Totopos are best known as originating from Zapotec peoples of the isthmus of Tehuantepec region of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. There, the Zapotec women bake totopos in a clay oven known as a comixcal. Totopos resemble a round, baked tortilla chip or certain types of Scandinavian flat bread, however, unlike tortillas, salt is added to the masa and holes are made in the disk prior to baking.

Gruma company

Gruma, S.A.B. de C.V., known as Gruma, is a Mexican multinational corn flour (masa) and tortilla manufacturing company headquartered in San Pedro, near Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico. It is the largest corn flour and tortilla manufacturer in the world. Its brand names include Mission Foods, Maseca, and Guerrero.

Mexican street food

Mexican street food, called antojitos, is prepared by street vendors and at small traditional markets in Mexico. Street foods include tacos, tamales, gorditas, quesadillas, empalmes, tostadas, chalupa, elote, tlayudas, cemita, pambazo, empanada, nachos, chilaquiles, fajita and tortas, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and soups such as menudo, pozole and pancita. Most are available in the morning and the evening, as mid-afternoon is the time for the main formal meal of the day.

The pre-Columbian history of the territory now comprising contemporary Mexico is known through the work of archaeologists and epigraphers, and through the accounts of the conquistadors, clergymen, and indigenous chroniclers of the immediate post-conquest period. While relatively few documents of the Mixtec and Aztec cultures of the Post-Classic period survived the Spanish conquest, more progress has been made in the area of Mayan archaeology and epigraphy.

Pozol

Pozol is the name of both fermented corn dough and the drink made from it, which has its origins in Pre-Columbian Mexico. Other ingredients besides corn dough and water, such as cocoa, may be added to it. The drink is consumed in the south of Mexico in the states of Chiapas and Tabasco. It is a thirst-quencher which has also been used to fight diseases. It has also aided indigenous peoples of the Americas as sustenance on long trips across the jungles.

References

  1. Nahuatl Dictionary. (1997). Wired Humanities Project. University of Oregon. Retrieved August 29, 2012, from link