The humble quesadilla, a golden toasted tortilla oozing with melted cheese, has won hearts far beyond its Mexican homeland. However, its journey from ancient Meso-American kitchens to global food menus is as rich and layered as the fillings it often houses. Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant would like to share the story of the quesadilla and how this delicious treat came to be.
The Ancient Origins
The root of the quesadilla lies in the pre-colonial Meso-American era. The indigenous peoples had been cultivating maize for thousands of years, and they perfected a variety of dishes from corn dough, or masa. Tortillas were central of the quesadilla. However, the cheese that we associate with quesadillas today was not part of the ancient recipe. Instead, these early tortillas were likely filled with native ingredients like pumpkin seeds, squash blossoms, and beans.
The landscape of Mexican cuisine changed dramatically with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. They introduced livestock, including cows and sheep, which led to the production of dairy products, especially cheese. The fusion of the native tortilla with the newly available cheese birthed what we recognize today as the quesadilla.
One of the most beautiful aspects of the quesadilla is its adaptability. While the basic concept remains consistent, various regions in Mexico have embraced and adapted the quesadilla, leading to a delightful diversity.
• Quesadillas Fritas: Unlike the commonly known folded quesadilla, some regions, particularly in Central Mexico, serve deep-fried quesadillas. They are often filled with cheeses, chicharrón prensado which is a pressed pork, or tinga a stewed chicken.
• Blue Corn Quesadillas: Places like Oaxaca, known for its rich variety of cheeses and unique blue corn, serve quesadillas that are not just delicious but also visually stunning.
• Queso Oaxaca: Named after the region of Oaxaca, this cheese is similar to string cheese and is a popular choice for quesadillas because of its melting qualities.
• Quesadillas without Cheese: Interestingly, in some parts of Mexico City, a quesadilla might not automatically come with cheese. Fillings like mushrooms, huitlacoche a corn fungus, and nopales which are cactus pads are so flavorful that cheese is not always a given, though it is always an option.
Making Your Own Quesadilla
The beauty of a quesadilla is its simplicity. At its most basic, you need only a tortilla and cheese. Here’s a quick guide:
• Choose Your Tortilla: Corn tortillas are traditional and gluten-free, but flour tortillas are also widely popular.
• Pick Your Cheese: Choose a good melting cheese like Monterey Jack, Cheddar, or Queso Oaxaca.
• Add Fillings: The sky’s the limit! From seasoned meats to grilled vegetables, choose what delights your palate.
• Cook: Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place the filled tortilla on the skillet, cooking each side until it’s golden and the cheese has melted.
Authentic Mexican Cuisine in Las Vegas, Nevada (Just Minutes from Summerlin, North LV, Paradise, Lone Mountain & Henderson, NV)
The quesadilla, in its golden, melted glory, is a testament to culinary evolution, fusion, and innovation. It celebrates all of the ancient traditions with new influences, resulting in a dish that’s both comforting and versatile. Wanting some tasty quesadillas or having a craving for some great Mexican food? Come on down to Eddie’s Mexican Restaurant today.