Of all the currently existing Mexican dishes in the world, perhaps one of the most important (especially in Mexico itself) is that of the tortilla. Ultimately, corn tortillas are the basis of many traditional Mexican dishes—including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and other staples of the Mexican diet. Without tortillas, there would be nothing to hold together all of the delicious ingredients of rice, vegetables, meat, and beans. As the years have passed, tortillas have become more and more popular among not only the Mexican population but individuals across America, regardless of their background. In fact, flour tortillas are at the top of the list in United States bread sales (second only to white sandwich bread) as the love for the product among American citizens continues to grow. How did this popular corn based product move from the cob to the plate?
Ancient Aztec Origins
You've likely heard of the Aztecs, a large Indian civilization that once populated much of central Mexico. Because corn (then called maize) was common and within easy access at the time, the Aztecs discovered and created many different ways to store and prepare maize based dishes. By crushing the corn into flour and then creating a flat bread, the Aztecs invented the tortilla, the perfect approach to wrap up other ingredients and deliver it to the mouth in a delicious new way. By the time Spanish conquerers stumbled upon the civilization, tortillas were a staple of their diet-- tasty knowledge that the Spanish explorers were excited to take back when them to their home.
Turning the Tables
As the tortilla has made it's way into the hearts (and hungry stomachs) of many individuals across time, uses for the product have widened greatly from what the Aztecs originally intended. While once thought to be strictly a Mexican dish used in preparing foods such as tacos and burritos, the tortilla has begun to expand and (in some cases) replace bread. Instead of putting rice, beans, and meat inside, many Americans now enjoy tortillas filled with vegetables for a wrap, left flat as a small pizza base, or even as the outer layer for a twist on the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
While the Aztecs probably could have never guessed just how popular their creation would become, the reality is that the love for tortillas is continuing to spread. What kinds of delicious creations can you come up with to further revolutionize the tortilla? The sky is the limit, so use your imagination to put together the next delicious combination!