Viva Tortillas!

Early Tortilla-Making in MexicoTortillas, both corn and flour, have been the basis of Mexican and Southwestern cooking for centuries. No one knows precisely when the first corn tortillas were made from primitive corn called teosinte that was ground on stone metates, but from the archaeological record it was certainly many thousands of years ago. When the Spanish arrived in the New World, they brought wheat with them, and so was born the flour tortilla. Both types of tortillas were originally unleavened, meaning that lighteners such as baking powder or yeast were not used to increase their volume. In that way, they were similar to pita, matzoh, and many Indian breads. However, as we see in some recipes, cooks do use leavening agents to lighten up their tortillas. The term “fluffy tortillas” in coming into common usage and although they are not traditional, many people prefer them to the denser varieties.

Amazing Tortilla Facts

–Tortillas are second only to fresh breads in U.S. sales and outsell bagels two to one.
–55 percent of all flour tortillas are sold to restaurants versus 32 percent of corn tortillas.
–Americans eat 7 billion pounds of tortillas a year, the equivalent of one tortilla per person per day.
–55 percent of all flour tortillas are sold in the west, and 54 percent of all corn tortillas.
–There are about 300 U.S. tortilla manufacturing companies.
–Tortillas are booming in Europe, too: A Mexican operates a successful tortilla company in
Germany, capable of cranking out up to 2 tons of tortillas per day (Mexican and TexMex restaurants and food are becoming increasingly popular abroad.)
–Check out MexGrocer’s selection of tortillas, here.

For more food history and recipes on the subjects of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine, just click on the image below.

AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

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