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Rudy mallinee
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Had good replies on smoked fish and pitahaya.

Was in Mazatlan a couple of times in the last 6 months. Asked at more than a few restaurants if there were any that serves the ORIGINAL nixtamal tortillas. Couldn't find any. And didn't have time to find any tortillerias that might make them.. Did find that there are some specialty tortillerias scattered around Mexico that still do produce them though.

 In my first visit to Mexico in 1961 the ONLY tortillas were nixtamal. If you've not familiar with nixtamal tortillas or never had any, you've missed the VERY best of Mexican tortillas . So good that you really don't need to put anything on it.

Anyone know if these are available around Chapala ? Maybe Guadalajara ? I'd love to get get them when I arrive in Chapala..

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Rudy, the tortilla--and the native corns that are used to produce it--are in serious danger here in Mexico.  Overall, consumption of tortillas has dropped 40% in the last 30 years.  Maseca--a brand of corn flour produced by Grupo Gruma--has all but taken over both the commercial and household production of tortillas.  It becomes harder every day to find a tortilla worthy of the name.

Maseca offers all kinds of incentives to tortillerías, starting with certain perks for using the Maseca logo on the front of the tortillería.  A couple of years ago CONACULTA (the Mexican national cultural organization) invited me to speak at a conference in the state of Puebla, near Tehuacán.  After that conference, my driver took a friend and me to visit the biosphere nearby where the original archeological findings of early, early corn were discovered--in other words, to the cradle of corn in the world.  Visiting that cave was one of the most important things I have done during the long, long time I've lived in Mexico.  To stand at the entrance to the origin of corn!  To know that at least 7,000 years ago, Stone Age people domesticated what is now the most important grain in the world! 

On the trip back to Tehuacán following our visit to the cave and the biosphere, the driver took us through a small town that calls itself "la cuna del maíz" (the cradle of corn).  We were stunned to pass the tiny town's tortillería and see what you see in the photo below.  I asked the driver to stop in the middle of the street so I could take the picture. Because it was late on a Saturday afternoon, the tortillería was closed.  I would love to have talked to the owner about his use of Maseca rather than nixtamal.

The closest place I know to purchase true tortillas, made from nixtamalized corn rather than Maseca, is Michoacán.  Women in rural Michoacán still make nixtamal, still make masa in their homes, and still produce real tortillas.  As you know, they bear very little resemblance to the current commercial tortilla.   It's quite possible that women in rural Jalisco also produce nixtamal and masa at home, but I suspect you won't find a commercial production of nixtamalized corn.  At one time there was a tortillería in Ajijic that did continue that practice; ask around to find out if it's still doing it.  I live in Mexico City now and can't remember where it is (or was) located.

You might like to read this article about native corns and the tortilla:
http://mexicocooks.typepad.com/mexico_cooks/2016/10/corn-an-ancient-gift-from-mexico-to-feed-the-world.html

If you use Facebook, consider joining the FB group Tortilla de Maíz Mexicana.  Founded about two years ago by the friend with whom I visited the cave, the group currently has just under 350,000 members.  The topic is always the preservation, protection, and promotion of native Mexican corns and of the tortilla.

Tehuacán San José La Tilapa Tortillería Maseca.jpg

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Tortilleria Elena in Ajijic behind the church just a few doors down from Guadalupe Victoria makes their own masa with corn brought down from the hills. We have seen the big bags come in and they soak the kernels with lime(?). These are the only ones we buy as most other tortillerias use the Maseca which is government subsidised  and probably has GMO corn from the USA added to it. Since the price of tortillas is set, most use the cheaper processed product.

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10 minutes ago, El Bizco said:

Huh? As far as I know nixtamalization is a process necessary to make any tortilla. Without doing this cornmeal will not form a dough (masa). So what are these "ORIGINAL nixtamal tortillas" that you're talking about?

Cross-post with you.  Read mine and weep.  And by the way, masa has never been made with corn meal.

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3 minutes ago, cafemediterraneo said:

Tortilleria Elena in Ajijic behind the church just a few doors down from Guadalupe Victoria makes their own masa with corn brought down from the hills. We have seen the big bags come in and they soak the kernels with lime(?). These are the only ones we buy as most other tortillerias use the Maseca which is government subsidised  and probably has GMO corn from the USA added to it. Since the price of tortillas is set, most use the cheaper processed product.

THANK YOU!  I couldn't remember the name and location.  Yes, dried corn kernels are cooked briefly in a mixture of calcium hydroxide (builder's lime) and water, then allowed to soak overnight, then are washed in several waters and drained--creating nixtamal.

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2 minutes ago, El Bizco said:

So, More Liana, you seem to be an expert. Are you saying Maseca is not nixtamalized?? I'm not trying to champion Maseca here, just wondering....

I have to go out for a while but will answer you in depth when I get back.  

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Thanks, More Liana. Like you say , nixtamal tortillas are the REAL tortillas I am referring to. 

Answering El Bizco, -- no, the commercial masa mixes are not nixtamalized. Try the REAL tortillas. You'll discover a huge difference. The tortillas made from Maceca or other  forms is very inferior to the "Original" nixtamalized tortillas.     

 

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7 hours ago, El Bizco said:

So, More Liana, you seem to be an expert. Are you saying Maseca is not nixtamalized?? I'm not trying to champion Maseca here, just wondering....

 

1 hour ago, Rudy mallinee said:

Thanks, More Liana. Like you say , nixtamal tortillas are the REAL tortillas I am referring to. 

Answering El Bizco, -- no, the commercial masa mixes are not nixtamalized. Try the REAL tortillas. You'll discover a huge difference. The tortillas made from Maceca or other  forms is very inferior to the "Original" nixtamalized tortillas.     

 

El Bizco and Rudy mallinee, I am finally home.  Rudy, I see that you say that "commercial masa mixes" are not nixtamalized.  In the first place, these corn flours are not mixes.  In the second place, they are indeed nixtamalized at least according to the  Maseca and Minsa packaging, Minsa being the second most used masa harina--i.e., corn flour for making masa.  Both Maseca and Minsa indeed claim to be nixtamalized.  There are, however, huge differences between what is nixtamalized dried corn for masa and what is nixtamalized corn flour. 

Traditionally, tortillas have always been made from dried corn kernels that have been removed from the cobs, nixtamalized, and then ground either at home using a metate or a small mill OR which are taken to a small-town mill and ground there OR which are ground on the premises of a commercial tortillería and are made into commercial tortillas.  According to cafemediterraneo, Tortillería Elena in Ajijic still prepares its own nixtamal and grinds its own masa. 

Today, close to 50% of tortillas is prepared--whether commercially or at home--using Maseca, Minsa, or some other corn flour.

What's the point of nixtamalization, anyway?  Why does any of this matter? 

Many millennia ago the people in the Puebla and Río Balsas areas of Mexico discovered--who knows how and who knows why--that preparing corn by nixtamalizing it softened the kernels, and particularly loosened the pericarp, the outer 'hull' of each individual kernel.  At that time, nixtamalizing was done using wood ash mixed with water.  Loosening that pericarp allows the human body to take advantage of the nutrients in corn; otherwise, the body is only able to access the starch layer of a kernel.  The nutrients--especially two specific amino acids--in nixtamalized corn combine with the amino acids in beans to create a complete protein.  Back in those early, early days, thousands of years prior to first contact with the Spanish, there were no major sources of animal protein in what is now Mexico.  In those days, we had protein from javalí (a small wild boar), from deer, from all sorts of birds including the turkey (native to Mexico), from fish, frogs, seafood and insects such as maguey worms, ants, ant eggs, and some beetles.  No domestic animals (cows, sheep, goats, chickens, etc) lived here.   It's easy to understand the importance of nixtamalized corn combined with beans (another native to Mexico) to provide more protein.  The same is true today.  Sixty percent of Mexicans earn their livings from what is called the "informal economy"; extreme poverty exists in every Mexican state and town.  People who live in extreme poverty rarely have the wherewithal to purchase much animal protein.  Beans and nixtamalized corn tortillas fill that gap.  Combine beans and nixtamalized tortillas with other crops grown in the milpa (Mexico's ancient agricultural system, still used today) and even the poorest Mexicans have a perfect diet: vegetable protein, squash (a dark yellow vegetable), and quelites (dark green vegetables both wild and cultivated).  

The problem with Maseca, Minsa, and other nixtamalized masa harina (corn FLOUR) is that the commercial manufacturers remove the nutrient-rich germ and other components of the corn kernel prior to processing it into corn FLOUR.  The masa prepared from this masa harina lacks the amino acids necessary to supply people with necessary nutrients.  What they get instead is analogous to white wheat flour from which vitamins have been removed in processing and to which vitamins are subsequently added post-processing so that Wonder, Bimbo, and other white flour breads can advertise, "NOW WITH 8 ADDED VITAMINS", or whatever number is currently popular.  What aren't added back to masa harina are the amino acids.  Furthermore, you will end up with a product that has numerous additives and preservatives that have no business being in a tortilla.  A tortilla should contain ONLY three ingredients: corn, calcium hydroxide, and water.  Corn tortillas contain NO fat and no other ingredients.  Adding anything else (nopal, beets, wheat flour mixed with corn flour, flax, etc) bastardizes the tortilla and makes it NOT A REAL TORTILLA.  

Furthermore, the use of corn FLOUR creates a tortilla that has neither the texture or the taste of nixtamalized corn.  Just this morning I went for breakfast with a young man who is studying Mexico's corns; we ate in a restaurant here in Mexico City that brings dried corn all the way from Oaxaca, nixtamalizes the dried kernels at the restaurant, grinds its own masa, and makes its own delicious and nutritious corn tortillas.  My young friend was astonished by the difference between these (as Rudy Mallinee would say) REAL tortillas and the Maseca, Minsa, or other commercial tortillas found at most Mexico City tortillerías.

Again, I recommend strongly that if you really want to understand the crucial need to protect, preserve, and promote the use of Mexican native corns and Mexico's corn tortillas, PLEASE if you are on Facebook, join the group Tortilla de Maíz Mexicana.  You will be proud to know that you have done your part to save Mexico's native corn crops and to preserve the REAL tortilla.

Other tortilla- or corn-related questions or comments?  Fire away.  

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Moreliana - I have a granite stone wet grinder, electric thank goodness, and I have used it in the past to make homemade masa dough from scratch. Do you have any idea where I might find corn, ideally from the local milpas, giving them a better income. Perhaps tortilla Elena will sell some, but with parking, and the weight of the bags, it might be difficult. I don't mind shipping a bag either, Redpack offers some very good truck rates within Mexico. In Canada, I used to buy Dent corn from the feed stores.

edit: I asked our housekeeper, who is from Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, she says she makes tortillas at home by hand, from corn kernels. She is going to bring us some tortillas, salsa, and some fillings next week. She just shines when she sees we are trying to make Mexican food and trying to learn more Spanish.

Also excellent photo of you on Facebook, you look really happy.

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Chillin, ask your housekeeper when they will harvest the mazorcas (dried ears of corn) this year--that part of the corn harvest is usually in November or December.  Ask her to sell you some then, either already desgranado or ready to desgranarDesgranar means to remove the kernels from the cob.  Or even now, if she has more than she thinks she'll need till the new crop, maybe she would sell you some.  I was thrilled to read your post about making masa!  I'm shining just like your housekeeper. 

That thing in the photo is an old-time desgranador--you rub the dried mazorcas across it and it removed the dried kernels from their cobs.  These things are still fairly common in rural areas.  Can you see what it's made of?  NOTHING goes to waste!

Thanks for the compliment about the FB photo, too.  Very sweet.  And yes, pretty happy over here.

Desgranador.JPG

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 More Liana, Just read the "Mexico Cooks" article. Excellent... Thanks.   Please send the name and directions.for the town " La Cuna del Maiz" . I'd like to vist there.

More Liana.

 Thanks for the good info. I'm not a social media user, so don't join Facebook ,etc. , but I'm interested in all that is traditional. 

And I hadn't done any research on the commercial masas and assumed there were additives of one kind or another.  Still, the commercial masas are a very poor substitute for the real tortilla.. Like eating farm raised salmon compared to a nice fresh Copper River Red salmon.  

 

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On 5/21/2018 at 4:18 PM, More Liana said:

Adding anything else (nopal, beets, wheat flour mixed with corn flour, flax, etc) bastardizes the tortilla and makes it NOT A REAL TORTILLA.  

So to follow your logic, if you add blueberries to pancakes they are NOT A REAL PANCAKE.  🤣

We have nixtamal corn and nopal tortillas a few times a month.  Tell my mother-in-law that is not a REAL TORTILLA.  🤣

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25 minutes ago, Rudy mallinee said:

Are you trying to make a joke, tiny ?

The blueberries are not a part of the actual pancake mix. Just a topping.

The lady More Liana appears to be a very smart woman. 

Blueberries can be a topping or they can be mix in the batter. You can buy boxed batter mix with blueberries.  Are you talking about that over sweeten, runny topping?  If you what a real blueberry taste, mix in some frozen blueberry into your batter.

What I was joking about was the use of the word 'Real'. What she was talking about was the 'Original Tortilla'.  At some point of time, things were added to original tortilla. They are still real tortilla. Yes, the modern tortilla has less favor but are easier and cheaper to make. Except for a few special meals, all the families I know use the modern tortilla. We get the favor from the filling. 

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1 hour ago, Tiny said:

Blueberries can be a topping or they can be mix in the batter. You can buy boxed batter mix with blueberries.  Are you talking about that over sweeten, runny topping?  If you what a real blueberry taste, mix in some frozen blueberry into your batter.

What I was joking about was the use of the word 'Real'. What she was talking about was the 'Original Tortilla'.  At some point of time, things were added to original tortilla. They are still real tortilla. Yes, the modern tortilla has less favor but are easier and cheaper to make. Except for a few special meals, all the families I know use the modern tortilla. We get the favor from the filling. 

Tiny, my use of the word "real" was a direct reference to the original post by Rudy Mallinee.  Of course you're right, in that what both Rudy and I are talking about is the "original" tortilla.  I would never denigrate your suegra, but you need to ask yourself--and read about--why the "modern tortilla" is so widely used.  Trust me, it's not because they're "easier and cheaper" to make.  The incursion of Maseca, Minsa, and the like are based more on political decisions than on a housewife's desire or need for a convenience food.  If you and so many other people are willing to accept an inferior product stripped of flavor and nutrients, rather than insist on a delicious, nutritious product, so be it.  Accepting the "modern tortilla" is--as I have said before--analogous to eating pan Bimbo rather than a loaf of honest bread.  

You are certainly entitled to your opinion about the "modern tortilla", but I am also entitled to mine. 

Rudy, thank you for thinking I'm smart.  I've extensively researched Mexico's native corns and their slow but steady disappearance, the evolution of the corn tortilla into the inferior product we know today, the incursion of Maseca and other corn flours into commercial and home tortilla production, and the decline in the consumption of corn tortillas over the last 30 years.  That kind of research leaves one with a certain amount (and a certain kind) of information, information which is important for all of us to access in order to understand the danger our corn heritage is in at the moment.  Remember, "Sin maíz, no hay país."  (Without corn, there is no country.)

And I haven't even mentioned popcorn yet!  POPCORN was the very first corn domesticated in what is today Mexico.  Today, about 99.9% of all popcorn is grown in the USA.  Read it and weep:    http://mexicocooks.typepad.com/mexico_cooks/2017/01/popcorn-the-original-mexican-corn-who-knew-maíz-palomero-el-máiz-original-de-méxico-quién-sabía.html

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11 hours ago, More Liana said:

And I haven't even mentioned popcorn yet!  POPCORN was the very first corn domesticated in what is today Mexico.  Today, about 99.9% of all popcorn is grown in the USA.  Read it and weep:    http://mexicocooks.typepad.com/mexico_cooks/2017/01/popcorn-the-original-mexican-corn-who-knew-maíz-palomero-el-máiz-original-de-méxico-quién-sabía.html

Let's talk about popcorn. 

There is two parts to your statements, modern popcorn and heritage popcorn.

Modern popcorn: Just because popcorn started in Mexico, it does not mean they have the demand and means (farms, equipment, etc,) to need world (specially US) demand. All you have to compare the snack section of a US  grocery store to a Mexican grocery store for microwave and prepared popcorn. You can see where the demand. Forget trying to find a bag of popcorn kennels in a Mexican grocery.

Heritage popcorn: That link is about heritage popcorn. 

Heritage popcorn is just like nixtamal tortillas, heritage tomatoes (and other vegs and fruit), hand make butter, fatter pigs and chickens, etc. They are still around but if the demand high, there would be higher production. They are part of history. 

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16 minutes ago, Tiny said:

Forget trying to find a bag of popcorn kennels in a Mexican grocery.

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Forgiving the funny typo, Super Surtidor carries yellow popcorn in the bag. WalMart does not, but I think they have them at Soriana too. The local palomito vendors have to buy them somewhere.

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I buy it at WalMart in the bagged rice section; three brands.

14 hours ago, Rudy mallinee said:

The lady More Liana appears to be a very smart woman. 

She is a very accomplished chef and food traveller. Check out her extensive Web page from the link above.

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58 minutes ago, AngusMactavish said:

Forgiving the funny typo, Super Surtidor carries yellow popcorn in the bag. WalMart does not, but I think they have them at Soriana too. The local palomito vendors have to buy them somewhere.

 

50 minutes ago, ComputerGuy said:

I buy it at WalMart in the bagged rice section; three brands.

She is a very accomplished chef and food traveller. Check out her extensive Web page from the link above.

As always, thanks for pointing my mistakes.  May you missed the point I was trying to make. 

I do not think at anytime I said anything negative about More Liana. It seems that other thought I did.  If I did, More Liana I am sorry.  I was just talking about the difference between modern and heritage products.

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Here is the secret to microwave popcorn and movie theatre popcorn - Flavacol.

https://www.amazon.com/Gold-Medal-Prod-Flavacol-Seasoning/dp/B004W8LT10

I remember they used to give a couple of squirts of what looked like a yellow oil, which everyone assumed was butter, but the flavor is an fine salt containing artificial butter and includes yellow food dyes. I have seen it sold on Mercado Libre in Mexico.

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