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In Praise of the Tortilla

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In the kitchen Ingredient Spotlight Vegetarian

As a longtime fan of Mexican food, you can imagine it's a little funny and a little irritating watching the great chefs of the world discover Mexican food, and the taco in particular. For years, many places have been making do with mediocre or bad tortillas, beans and chiles. It seems everyone, especially those in New York, have got religion all at once. I hope it lasts.

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But loving tacos without having a broader understanding or passion for Mexican food and ingredients is like loving car door handles while ignoring the rest of the vehicle. And obsessing over tacos without a love of tortillas, the process of nixtamalization or experimenting with different corns, is just nuts.

Before the great chefs go out on a limb and declare this the golden age of tacos, I'd suggest they make an insanley fresh tortilla from insanely fresh masa and add maybe a wee bit of cheese, salt and salsa and be happy with that before they dig any deeper.

I may sound defensive and like a crabby old fart (and for sure, I'm the latter), but we've been importing heirloom corn from small farmers for years and the interest in it has been almost zilch. Again, let's hope this sticks. We'll all eat better.

We make our own tortillas for sale here in the Bay Area, available at our stores in Napa and the ferry building in San Francisco and many food shops.



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