We’re almost in business! After months of research & negotiations, dramas with customs & delivery companies, delay after delay, our tortilla oven has finally arrived!
What’s a tortilla oven I hear you say. Well, if you’ve ever been to Mexico you’ll know every neighbourhood has at least one Tortilleria. A little shop dedicated to making and selling fresh Mexican corn tortillas straight from the oven.
The humble Tortilleria is a very simple operation, somewhat like a local bakery. Though they are getting more & more modern, you’ll still see a few rustic old operations. In true Mexican style nothing is really finished, rough cement floors, simple rendered walls, probably a garden tap and a few wires hanging down or a questionable plug to connect to the electricity. There is something truly charming about the simplicity, the focus is always on the final product. As a foreigner I found myself wondering why Mexicans are so passionate about such a humble everyday food, but it didn’t take long to understand. The smell of the freshly cooked tortillas and the sound of the oven is a give away that you’re approaching a tortilleria, the oven sings as the conveyor belt squeaks along, cooking the tortillas to perfection. Diana Kennedy gives a beautiful description of a tortilla oven in action in her cook book ‘The Essential Cuisines of Mexico’ (New York 2000)
In the Tortillerias the ground masa (nixtamalised corn flour dough) is fed into a large hopper and pushed out at the bottom through a press, which stamps the tortillas out onto a narrow conveyor belt. The tortilla goes on its way as the belt jiggles over jets of hot flame; the belt goes just so far and then doubles back in such a way that the tortilla is flipped over, and as it cooks through it starts to puff and dance, and very soon it is thrown onto a fast growing pile in a cloth lined basket. (p 47)
As you can see from the pictures it’s BIG! And it has proved very difficult to get into its home, which is now officially a Tortilleria. We won’t be moving it any time soon, that’s for sure!
One giant step closer to #DoñaCholita #freshcorntortillas