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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tortillas

Being from California, originally, we naturally love Mexican (technically Tex Mex) food. Most people think of Uruguay as having that type of food. Not so. Uruguay caters more to Italian based pasta dishes and Mexican food is foreign food, and not very popular.

Corn tortillas are unheard of here. Not surprising since producing the masa (bleached corn meal) for the tortillas is a high energy and high polluting process. Millions of liters of water in Mexico City are polluted each day with the calcium hydroxide (limewater) solution needed to produce the masa. Little wonder that Uruguay would not wish to produce corn tortillas for a population that really has no taste for them.

However, a few years ago, flour tortillas began to show up in the markets. A few mexican restaurants have even sprung up, though to be honest, the food doesn't really taste like California. We recently went into town and had a burrito at the California Burrito Company in Old Town (pictured left). It was OK, but nothing to write home about. The "corn chips" pictured below were vile- really. Obviously made from regular corn meal and attempting to pass for corn tortilla chips. 

Up until recently, I have been satisfied with buying flour tortillas from Tienda Inglesa (our local giant supermarket). But 2 weeks ago I couldn't find the better brand ("Bimbos", if you can believe that) and had to buy another type. They look perfectly flat and gave the appearance of being made of cardboard, but I wanted tacos and so I bought them. When I got them home and used them, I realized that cardboard would have been an improvement. So, I wondered if I could make flour tortillas, myself. For years, in Seattle, we had made corn tortillas, since masa is readily available there. We had a cast iron tortilla press and cast iron griddles. So I looked into flour tortillas.

Interestingly, flour tortillas are very easy to make and despite the fact that this was my first effort, they came out surprisingly well. Here is what you need:

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water

I found this recipe that had the lowest amount of oil. Other recipes used as much as 1/3 cup. I mixed the dry ingrediants in a bowl and slowly added the water and oil mixture until it formed a crumbly, wet dough.


Then you form it into a ball on a lightly flour dusted surface, knead for 4-5 minutes and cover with a cloth for 20 minutes to let the dough rest.


You then pinch off golf ball sized bits of the dough, roll them round and cover them for another 10 minutes.


After that, you flatten them on the surface by hand to about 4", then roll them out with a rolling pin to about 7" or 1/8" thick. I actually didn't roll my thin enough, so they were closer to pita bread, but still came out fine.


Cook them on a hot griddle (or cast iron pan) until they bubble and brown (about 30+ seconds each side) and plot them on a plate.


They were fresh, warm and did not taste a bit like cardboard. Plus, I don't have to drive or walk into town and buy them, I use items I always keep on hand, so Denise and I can enjoy fresh warm tortillas whenever we want.

12 comments:

Lynn W said...

I really enjoyed this (and many) of your blog posts. We are moving to Uruguay later this year and your information is very helpful. Plus I enjoy your light and witty way of writing. Keep on blogging Wally!

Anonymous said...

Dear retired
always enjoy your blog and as we also live in marindia want to share with you some very beautiful spots on the neighbourhood...have ever visited neptunia called remanso of neptunia.. ?amazing views of the river entering the sea , fisherman boats...you can reach by foot from marindia, a wonderful 1 hour and half walk or by car..there is also a small retaurant there

Wally said...

Dear Vecino- We did a post on that restaurant on July 14, 2009. We enjoyed it very much. The owner's son was working on one of the boats at the time. She served us in that little private room with a view of the fishing boats. It was lovely. We love this area.

If you have any other suggestions, let us know.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to try this - flour tortizhas from the Anglican supermarket ("Tienda Inglesia" as some newbs say) are spotty - sometimes good, sometimes bad (we got used to name Bimbo living in México - almost). 'Roll your own' Tex Mex is one of our staple meals.

For sour cream, closest we've found is Casan Crem, opposite the cheese counter at TI.

~Doc

Wally said...

i will be posting my attempts to make true sour cream in a future blog, using ingredients found locally.

Anonymous said...

Great Blog! My parents retired to Uruguay in 2001 and have flourished there! They live in Pocitos near the beach in Montevideo. They often travel to Punta del Este during the summer and they love both the city and the beach life!

Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying your blog, since we are planning to visit Uruguay in the next year as a scouting trip. It's great to hear about day to day life. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Try to find Crema Rusa at Tienda Inglesa (Sour Cream) ... that will solve your cream woes!

YaYa said...

Just found your blog; very informative and fun to read. I've spent the last two Winters (USA) helping out in English Congregations; first in Costa Rica and last Winter in Mexico.
I have a few questions about Uruguay; would it be possible to email you?

Wally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I live in Arizona and one of the main hurdles in convincing my Mexican wife to live in Uruguay is the lack of Mexican food. I thought I had seen advertised a restaurant in Carrasco that had one of those tortilla machines, the kind that spits one out every couple seconds. I think it was Hacienda las Palomas? Ever try that?

Wally said...

Have not tried the restaurant in Carrasco, but I doubt they have corn tortillas (I may be wrong). There are several "Mexican" places around. But, to be honest, not up to the quality we are used to.

Get you wife to come here and open up a Mexican restaurant, please, please, please.