Tortillas have made their way into our hearts and our minds and aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. From being a part of all of our favorite Mexican food dishes to being the base of Napoleon Dynamite’s favorite meal — “a dang quesadilla” — tortillas are a staple of our diets in Salinas and the Monterey area. If you are like most, you probably enjoy a tortilla with your meal or by itself on a consistent basis. But how much do you know about this beloved food? Today we are going to share some fun facts about everyone’s favorite food. 

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6 Fun Facts About Tortillas

How much do you know about tortillas? Test your knowledge here! 

How They Are Made

Though the type of tortilla being made will affect the overall process of creating this delectable food, both are made the same wayto put it simply, tortillas are made from corn or wheat flour and then flattened into a round shape and cooked on a griddle till the edges begin to dry then flipped. The tortilla is done when it begins to puff. 

The Legend of the Tortilla

It is said that a peasant invented the tortilla for a hungry king. Whether or not this Mayan legend is true, the tortilla has been around a long time — historians date the tortilla going back to approximately 10,000 B.C. Only one of the best things ever invented could have survived the years to continue to be a favorite staple of the modern diet. 

They Aren’t Just Delicious

Tortillas haven’t just survived the years because they are tasty. They are also incredibly convenient! They make eating any meal on-the-go easier. It isn’t just modern people that appreciate this convenience. Cowboys of the Old West are said to have loved tortillas because they made a meal around the campfire easy. They would simply fill a tortilla up with meat, huddle around the campfire, and tell stories.

Making Corn Tortillas is a Labor of Love

When you have a choice, do you choose corn tortillas or flour? No matter your preference, corn tortillas are a labor of love to make and actually came before four tortillas. To begin, the corn must be soaked in lime water (not citrus juice — calcium hydroxide) to remove the hull. This process also improves the corn’s nutritional profile. This ancient process is called nixtamalization. 

After hours of soaking, the kernels are then ground by hand. The flour is then mixed with other ingredients to make a corn tortilla! Also of note, there are over 50 native varieties of corn!

Flour Tortillas Came to Be How?

Corn tortillas were a part of the diet of native people for thousands of years before flour tortillas came to be. With the entrance of the Spanish conquistadors, came the introduction of wheat, a crop that actually grew better than corn in the northern regions of Mexico. As a result, and due to the Catholic conquistadors belief that wheat had close ties with Jesus Christ, flour tortillas became the norm in many parts of Mexico. Additionally, corn was viewed by these foreigners as a food for animals and didn’t have any place at the dinner table.

Flour tortillas are still the staple in much of northern Mexico. Thick and chewy tortillas are enjoyed there as well as the Sonora-style tortillas which are nearly paper-thin.   

Americans Love Tortillas 

The Tortilla Industry Association (Yes, this is a real entity.) stated that Americans consumed 85 billion tortillas — not including tortilla chips — in 2000. Nearly 20 years later, it is easy to assume that this number has only increased due to the popularity of taco bars and the like. Further, American’s don’t just love to eat tortillas when they enjoy Mexican fare. They also love to wrap their hot dogs in them, use them to make Mexican lasagna, substitute them for pitas and bread, and even use them to make personal pizzas. 

It is clear that tortillas are and will continue to be a mainstay of our diets in Salinas, Monterey, and really the entire United States — something that we at El Charrito aren’t made about! Come visit us to enjoy a tasty tortilla and Mexican food.