One of the iconic components in a number of Mexican dishes is the tortilla. The tortilla is used for burritos, chimichangas, tacos, fajitas and more. You can find a tortilla in many of our beloved traditional Mexican foods. However, over the years, tortillas have changed greatly from the original tortilla recipe. Now, we have much more of a variety or types of tortilla that may not be considered traditional. Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant would like to share a few fun facts as well as the history of the tortilla and how they have changed.
Have you ever heard the word or phrase “mega biodiverse”? Mega biodiverse is a time period that describes regions around the world where most major human communities first began. South America is one of the first early human major communities where humans began cooking, and were engaged in agriculture and farming. Many people believe that most Mexican food is strongly influenced by the Spanish, including the tortilla. However, this is wrong. Ancient South Americans or the Mesoamericans had their own style of tortilla.
The First Tortilla
Today most tortillas are either corn or flour based. However neither of them are considered traditional. Ancient South American people are believed to have cultivated Teosinte crops which is a relative to corn crops. Teosinte, or also known as teocintle crops, can still be found today in Mexico in the Oaxaca. Most people today don’t use the kernels of the teosinte crop and prefer chewing on their soft and sweet stalk instead. As the teosinte crop is fairly close to corn it was an easy transition to this modern day crop. The Mesoamerican people began using this new crop corn. In so doing, they would dry out the corn and grind it down into masa. Masa is corn dough where they would make flat cakes. These flat cakes were used in many of the local dishes. These flat cakes would soon become the tortilla we all know today.
During the early 1500’s the Spanish conquistadors came to South Americas and saw the Aztec people making this flat corn bread or corn cakes. The Aztec cakes reminded the Spanish of the Spanish cake tortas and called the Aztec cakes “tortillas.” The Spanish used a wheat or flour version which is why today there is both flour and corn tortillas. As the Spanish loved the Aztec version of their own torta, the Spanish brought the corn cake bread back home. Many people believe it was the Spanish who first began making the corn tortilla and had the influence on the South American people. But this is a common misconception. It was the Mesoamericans people who adapted to corn crops and figured out the first true tortilla.
Authentic Mexican Cuisine in Las Vegas, Nevada (Just Minutes from Summerlin, North LV, Paradise, Lone Mountain & Henderson, NV
When dining at your favorite Mexican restaurant and you have your choice of corn or flour tortilla, are you more of a Mesoamerican or Spanish eater? For those who love corn tortillas you are indulging in a bit of ancient Mesoamerican history, while those who prefer flour are taking a bit of Spanish culture. When craving your favorite Mexican dishes come on down to Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant or order to go today!