A little history

Often referred to as “Mexico’s everyday bread,” unleavened tortillas are round and flat, resembling a thin pancake. They can be made from either corn cooked in a lime-based solution, corn flour to produce a dough or masa, or wheat flour. The dough is formed into flat disks, and they are traditionally baked on a griddle or comal.

The first tortillas date back 10,000 years before Christ and were made of native corn’s dried kernels, ground into a coarse flour. According to historical accounts recorded by the Franciscan Friar Bernardino de Sahagun (1450-1590), the Aztec diet was based on corn in the form of tortillas and tamales along with plenty of chilies in many varieties. Historically, corn was the only grain used to produce tortillas, but today wheat flour tortillas have a slight edge over corn varieties.

Tortilla manufacturers are broadening their reach by expanding offerings to include low-carb and gluten-free flour tortillas.

“Mexicans have been wrapping a tortilla around meat and eating it going back to the days of the Aztecs,” said Gustavo Arellano during an interview in the Christian Science Monitor. Mr. Arellano is a journalist in Orange County, CA, and author of the book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.

He said that during the Mexican Revolution, “refugees brought the food of their homeland into Southern California around the 1920s, where the first famous tacos were taquitos.”

Many Tex-Mex and Mexican-style restaurants, like Chevy’s, El Guapos and Uncle Julio’s, now cook many of their tortillas in open kitchens in their restaurants in front of customers and patrons.