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Ingredient of the Week,June 9: Tortillas

Posted by on Jun. 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM
  • 8 Replies


Tortilla – A name given by the Spaniards to the unleavened flat bread they found in Mexico among the Aztec in the sixteenth century. The word “tortilla comes from the Spanish word “torta” which means round cake.

Past, and Present, and Future:

Tortillas date back as far as 10,000 years BC. It was the principal food of the Aztecs who were the dominant people in Meso-America in 1519. Spanish conquerors looking for gold, that they found and sent back to Spain, when they reached the highlands of Mexico found a civilization that had the most delightful and unusual food. The main diet of these people was corn; it supplied the necessary starch, the main source of energy, as well as protein and a little fat. Sometimes the corn was eaten raw on the cob but in most cases it was stored dry and ground into corn meal and later made into masa, corn dough. As time went on, the Indians learned to soak the corn kernels in a lime solution until the skins came off, which made the making of the masa a lot easier.


women making homemade tortillas

Still today this ancient method of making tortillas is still being followed, an Indian woman working with a stone slab grinding the soaked kernels into masa. The masa can be white, yellow or any color the raw corn is, but more importantly the consistency is key. As simple as the ingredients are, if the temperature of the mix water is not just right or the not the right quantity, the tortillas will not come out perfect. In Mexico a young girl will spend years learning the secrets to making the perfect tortilla. Once the masa is just right, a golf ball size of masa is placed between her wetted hands and the process of patting it into a flat thin pancake begins. When the masa is about six to eight inches in diameter, it is placed onto a hot griddle/ comal to be quickly cooked on both sides.

They are also now commonly made from wheat flour The maize and wheat Mexican tortillas have different textures: the maize (corn) version is somewhat thicker and heartier in texture, while the wheat version is less easily broken due to its high gluten content, and can be made larger in circumference and thinner without breaking too easily. Besides just eating them, Mexicans use tortillas as plates, and sometimes even use them as forks and spoons.             


woman making homemade tortillas


Today tortillas are prepared using the same ingredients but machines have replaced the Indian women working over a grinding slab. Each tortilla is perfect and uniform in size. They are made from corn as well as wheat flour and they come in every flavor imaginable. But even with all our new technology one can still make them from scratch if they so choose.

From the days of the Aztecs and the first known tortillas, to today, tortillas have gone from an ethnic food to mainstream in the United States. Tortillas sales have now become second only to sliced bread as the number 2 packaged bread product sold, passing bagels and muffins.


Tortillas once only thought of as a Mexican food, is now being eaten by Americans with everything one can think of; hotdogs, peanut butter and jelly, pizza, casseroles, sandwiches, a wrap for anything you can think of. Tortillas have become, a bread product you can find almost anywhere from fast food restaurants to gourmet shops. Americans have fallen in love with this new and exciting flat bread that has been around for centuries.

Main dishes using tortilas include:
Tacos: where the tortilla is used as a sandwich,
Enchiladas: where the filling is rolled in tortilla then coated with sauce and cooked in an oven.
Chilaquiles: thin fried strips of tortilla coated with sauce and cooked in an oven.
Quesadillas: tortilla is filled folded into turnovers and then fried.
Mexican breakfast: fried eggs on fried tortillas garnished with tomatoes, crushed red pepers and avocado slices.


How often do you eat tortillas? How do you use them in your coking?

by on Jun. 9, 2013 at 9:17 AM
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Replies (1-8):
by Silver Member on Jun. 9, 2013 at 10:28 AM
I like corn tortillas the best (hard and soft) and so does DS. DD and DH like soft flour tortillas. We use them once in a while fir tacos, quesadillas and wraps. I wouldn't say we use them often, though.
by Bronze Member on Jun. 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

We eat tortillas all the time.  DH is Mexican-American adn we live in San Antonio so we eat a lot of Mexican food or tex-mex.  We like both flour and corn.  For our breakfast tacos we use flour, for fajitas we tend to use the flour with chicken, but like the corn ones with beef.

by on Jun. 9, 2013 at 7:11 PM

I eat them a couple times a week. I wrap rice, beans and salsa in them.

by on Jun. 9, 2013 at 7:31 PM
Mmmmm chilaquiles hot with a fried eggs on top and the yolk drippin down. Awww man now Im hungry. My husbands are good but nothing compares mother in laws.
Dh says the table isnt set if there aren't tortillas on it. Dh prefers white corn. We eat them with just about.everything. Ours are store bought but we prefer handmade. There is a Mexican restaurant where my brother lives that sells them for 50cents each. The best ones I ever had were the ones my mil bought at the market in Tepozlan in Mexico.
by on Jun. 9, 2013 at 7:34 PM

I buy them at the store every now and then. My kids and I make them at least twice a week. We love them with pinto beans, cheese, sour cream, or chicken and beef. Yummy!!!!!!

by on Jun. 10, 2013 at 7:35 PM

We don't eat them often but I love them!  I really should use them more.

by on Jun. 10, 2013 at 8:06 PM

not too often....basicly for taco or fajita night

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 5:25 PM
I eat them several times a week for lunches. As a family maybe once a week we have fajitas or quesadillas. Occasionally we have enchiladas.
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