July 20, 2006

My tortillas are better than yours

Even though I love to cook, I didn't want to learn how to make tortillas. I don't know why. I make almost all of the bread we eat, so it's not like I don't know how to handle dough. I used to buy tortillas in Dallas, but the store-bought tortillas here are not that good. The women make tortillas by flapping or slapping the dough ball back and forth in their hands. I don't know how, but the result is a perfectly round 6" circle every time.

Once when visiting one of el Jefe's sisters in Kansas City, she tried to show me how. I made an attempt but my tortillas came out square or other odd shapes with holes in them and everyone laughed. They even took video of it so that they could laugh several times more, and to send to the other family members so they could laugh, too. Another time, a little girl about nine years old tried to teach me. She laughed at me, too.

I used to buy them and then make a great show of flapping the (already made) tortilla back and forth between my hands, trying to convince people that I was making them. It was a good joke, I thought.

Finally after a long dry spell with no housekeeper and no fresh tortillas, el Jefe was going into tortilla withdrawal. His mother had even stopped bringing freshly made ones to him. (Hint, hint − it's time for la gringa to make my boy his tortillas.) So I broke down and just figured it out.

I tried flapping. I tried rolling. I tried stretching. No matter what I would do, that little circle would just bounce back into a wad of dough. And then I finally put the dough ball between two pieces of plastic and just started pushing the dough outward with my fingers to make a smooth circle (well, pretty much a circle − I'm not anal). They weren't bad. Since then my technique has gotten better and better. I make thin flour tortillas more in the Mexican style, not the fat ones they usually make here. El Jefe likes them that way and he tells me that my flour tortillas are the best in Honduras. Of course, he doesn't tell his mother that.

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