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Cornmeal Based Mexican Food
The Indians of what is now Mexico are credited to have discovered how to grow corn thousands of years ago. That is why the name Indian corn came about. Corn became the most important food of Mexico. One thing that is commonly done with corn is to make it into corn meal. This is done by softening it in hot lime water, boiling it and then grinding it into corn meal.
The main corn meal food is the tortilla. It is a thin flat bread shaped by hand or machine and cooked on an ungreased griddle. It is the bread of most Mexicans. Sometimes, they eat it plain but they have used tortilla in a variety of ways to satisfy everyone's appetite.
How to Make Homemade Tortillas
Tips for Storing Tortillas
For homemade tortillas, place cooked tortillas in foil and cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm. It can also be kept in the refrigerator for several days by placing it in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
For commercial or store-bought tortillas, keep them tightly closed in its original packaging when they will not be used right away. They can be stored at room temperature taking note of the use before date. Storing them in the refrigerator will extend it's shelf life up to 2 weeks. If you want to keep them much longer, freezing will make them last up to 3 months. Wrap the original packaging again with aluminum foil or place it in a freezer bag, then keep it frozen the whole time. Opened tortillas should be kept in airtight container to keep them soft and not dry.
Before using frozen tortillas, you should let them thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two before using them and they should not be thawed in the microwave.
Mexican Food PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Corn-Meal Based Mexican Food
Some of the Mexican food that make use of corn meal tortilla are
- Taco - A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. A variety of
fillings can be used including beef, chicken, seafood, vegetables, and cheese. It is considered a finger food and is served with salsa, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and lettuce as garnishes.
- Enchilada - It is a rolled-up tortilla with a similar filling to taco but covered with hot sauce. Beans and potatoes can also be used to fill Enchiladas.
- Tostada - It is a tortilla fried in deep fat until it becomes crisp and served flat with beans, cheese, lettuce, meat and onions on top. It can consumed alone, as a salty snack known as totopo or used as a base for other foods.
- A burrito also uses tortilla to wrap or fold around a filling. The tortilla is usually
lightly grilled or steamed, to soften it and make it more pliable. In
Mexico, refried beans, Mexican rice or meat are usually the only fillings and the tortilla is smaller in size. The word burrito literally means "little donkey" in Spanish, from the word burro. The name burrito
possibly was derived from the appearance of a rolled up tortilla,
which vaguely looks like the ear of a donkey.
- Quesadilla - A quesadilla is a Mexican food made primarily of cheese inside a folded corn tortilla and cooked until the cheese melts. Occasionally, a second ingredient is added with the cheese to add variety to the dish. The word quesadilla comes from a Spanish word which literally means "cheesy tortilla".
Other Mexican dishes that makes use of corn meal are Atole and Tamales.
- Atole - Atole is a traditional corn meal-based Mexican hot drink. A chocolate atole is similar to champurrado. The drink is made from masa (corn flour), water, piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), cinnamon, vanilla and optional chocolate or fruit. The mixture is blended and heated before serving.
- Tamales - The Tamales is made from corn meal that is steamed in corn husks or banana leaves and usually mixed with pork or chicken. The wrapping is discarded before eating.
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