June 9, 2008

I AM A GRINGO PIG!



Hey. I just ate 6 fresh, hot flour tortillas straight from the woman who just opened a tiny tortilla shop nearby. And I ate them really fast, while making noises reminisce of a baby calf nursing. Because THERE IS NOTHING BETTER IN THIS WORLD THAN FRESH FLOUR TORTILLAS. Wrapped around some meat and cheese product is pretty good. But they are best with about a stick of butter, and some coarse sea salt.

So now I feel rather ill.

But it was so worth it! Back in the day, the day when I was a ramblin’, backpacking groovy kinda chick, hanging out at Mayan ruins in southern Mexico with nefarious characters, my main mission was to locate the best tortilla maker in the vicinity. When I found her (and it was always a woman, I never saw a guy make tortillas…muy mal!), I pretty much set up camp in her front yard with the chickens and waited for her to get to it. In southern Mexico, it was always corn tortillas, never, ever flour. Flour tortillas are pretty much a northern Mexico, south Texas thing. Whenever I would ask the tortilla lady if she could make flour tortillas, she gave me a look like I had just asked her to fry up her first born. I loved the corn tortillas….they were very small, thin, and sublime. I could eat a dozen at a time, no problem. I was hypnotized (or possibly a little dazed by the latest remedy for diarrhea from the Pharmacia) by the rhythmic slapping of the tortillas between her hands, then watching her quickly cook them, flipping them deftly with just one finger …there were no fancy tortilla presses, or spatulas. It remains, to me, the finest display of culinary skill I have ever seen.



But being from Arizona, I grew up gnawing on flour tortillas, (seriously, my Mom gave them to us when we were teething as babies!) and they remain my favorite. And when I can find someone who knows what they’re doing, I become an addict. I’ve made lots of my own over the years, some of the results pretty dang good. But nothing compares to the genetic wonderment and magic that flows from the hands of an accomplished Mexican woman (usually somewhere over the age of 102, with 3 dogs that hate me). Who refuses to speak English (even though she knows exactly what I’m asking for), slaps a warm dozen tortillas into a plastic bag, closing the bag with a twist that would snap the antenna off a border patrol truck, and barks the price in Spanish. And she has no change. Too bad for you, gringa! I pay up timidly, bowing all the way out of the tiny store. Once in the car, I can’t wait, and fold one into fourths, cramming it in my mouth. Ah, yes….the warm taste of flour, lard, ancient fry pans, salt, some sort of earthy slick, summer monsoons, and heaven.

The second tortilla was wrapped around a mix of ground venison, cilantro, jalapeno-smoked chorizo sausage, tomatillo salsa and Cotija cheese.






The third tortilla was buttered up and salted.



The fourth and fifth, with a little honey

The sixth is sitting here with me now – I’m tearing bits off as I type.

Yeah, I’m feeling pretty disgustingly full.

I hope somewhere, somehow, in some tiny tortilla shop next to a mercado selling beer and cashing checks, some wonderful tortilla lady will give you just that feeling.

18 comments:

Julie said...

Now you've got me drooling....everything is better with butter!

Peter M said...

Oink! I would so love to find a tortilla shack up here that made'em from scratch.

Anj said...

Flour tortillas are just the best! I love them by themselves, wrapped around just about anything. How wonderful to have home made ones nearby. Yum, yum, yum.

RecipeGirl said...

We have a great area of our city called Old Town in San Diego. They have a zillion Mexican restaurants and you can find the little old Mexican ladies making homemade tortillas and selling them. YUMMMM!

Lisa said...

Warm fresh tortillas do sound good. Unfortunately, I have to get mine at Trader Joe's. No tortilla ladies near me :(

Heather said...

Oh god I want to eat a grip of crispy-edged, succulent tortillas now. Damn you woman!

I was gonna make tacos out of the last of my pulled pork (it's carnitas now, baby!), but I might hafta switch to flour instead of using corn tortillas.

www.adorn-jewelry.blogspot.com said...

oh, sounds so so yummy! fresh, hot tortillas?!! yummmmmm!

Dhanggit said...

oh catherine, this tortilla mexican post of yours is so intoxicating...i want some more!! hehehe

btw, remember your comment on my blog about the hibiscus flower and my dad...the truth is, last weekend for the first i saw my dad in my dream :-) you are right i guess :-)

Prudy said...

I can't think of anything better in the world than good Mexican food in a fresh tortilla. Oh, mama.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This is such an awesome post Catherine! I honestly don't think I have ever had a really really good tortillas before. But I kinda know how you feel, it is the way I get when the Navajo Grandmas make fry bread!

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Hey Gang,
thank you for the comments - I bet some of you can find them (yes, even you, Peter..)

Jenny said...

What a great post Catherine! There's nothing like a fresh hot tortilla. My husband and his friends used to live on tortillas and butter at the local Bashas for their lunches in high school.

That burrito looks incredible too! Have a great day girl!

Emiline said...

Oh gosh. I really want one! I've never had any form of fresh tortilla. Oh man. They sound sooo good.

Catherine said...

Fantastic entry. :D

Catherine Wilkinson said...

To ALL!

Thank you for your comments. Now, GO FIND your tortilla lady! She's out there, waiting to abuse you! And you'll GLADLY take it! Peter...I just KNOW there's one "up there"...ask around!

Deborah said...

Oh, what I wouldn't do for a little shop with authentic tortillas!! I have yet to try making them homemade, but I do love the ones from Costco that you just have to cook. Now I want tortillas...

Jeff said...

I just got back from lunch stuffed full of sushi, read this post, and now I am debating running to the local mexican place to get tortillas.

So full yet so hungry.


mmm.....lard my favorite the pig.

cook eat FRET said...

GREAT POST

damn you.
i now am craving these.

but no no no.
i am eating FRUIT.

 
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"The Dish" by Catherine Wilkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.