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Tortillas, a must in Mexico

The tortilla is part of the culinary identity of Mexicans everywhere. It is a basic component of the antojitos that accompany festive dishes and is a supply in the tradition of food. The tortilla is the oldest characteristic that distinguishes Latin American gastronomy, Mexicans occupy the first place in the consumption of this worldwide since 94% of the population of Mexico consume it daily with food. The way in which tortillas have evolved in Mexico is very important to understand their distribution today.

The tortilla is a gastronomic accompaniment that has existed since approximately 500 B.C., since in the region of Oaxaca vestiges of clay plates for preparing tortillas have been found, which date back to approximately that time. Corn was the main food base for Mesoamerican civilizations, used in different ways. The conquistadors and the friars who converted the indigenous people identified the tortilla as a corn bread and believed that it was like a baked bread or a bread without volume. The way in which corn tortillas have always been prepared is with corn, powdered lime and water, cooking dry corn with lime slowly for a few hours so that the corn husk is soft and then the grain is allowed to settle to be able to grind it the next day, this whole process is called nixtamalization.

The techniques for preparing tortillas varied considerably; in the case of pre-Hispanic tortillas, the dough was molded with clean hands, so the shape was different. In 1904, Everardo Rodríguez and Luis Romero built a machine that could transport the tortillas to the comal. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, new and some semi-manual ways of making tortillas appeared, such as the ideas designed by Salvador Guzmán in 1935 and the one manufactured by Félix Rábago in 1936, both consisting of two metal plates but replacing the lever with a squeegee that spreads the nixtamal dough in the circular hole in the upper plate, so that when lifted, the disk of dough is obtained. Its use became popular during the time of New Spain, and by the age of independence, it was a resource needed by the guerrillas to subsist. In the 1940s, the type of corn began to be industrialized for a production that could avoid the demand and in 1947, Fausto Celorio revolutionized Mexican food by inventing the tortilla machine, which made the preparation of tortillas much faster.

Tortillas have been a fundamental part for Mexicans because it is what accompanies most of their dishes, it has always been part of their traditions and gastronomic culture. Throughout the years, the way to create tortillas has evolved a lot, from making them by hand, to the creation of a machine to meet the enormous demand of Mexicans.

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