Roadside tortilla school in Mexico


Somewhere between Atlacomulco and Jilotepec we stop for lunch at a roadside chicken rotisserie. They are everywhere in this part of the country, and this one is part of a chain that I’ve been seeing in almost every town, Pollos a la Lena. You can get a half roasted chicken dinner with seasoned potatoes, grilled onions and peppers and as many corn tortillas as you want for less than $5 USD.
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The meal is good and while I sit at the plastic patio table and relax for a few minutes before getting back on the bike, I watch a woman making tortillas over a brick oven. I walk over and ask her if I can watch and take some photos and she is very kind and smiles, and nods that it will be ok. She shows me how she makes them, one after another. She has a bowl of dough (not sure if that’s the right word…) made and resting on the work bench. She pinches a small handful of the dough and rolls it into a ball.
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She has a press protected with a bit of plastic. In goes the ball of dough.
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A quick press flattens the dough into a small round raw tortilla.
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Onto the flat pan that rests on top of the wood fire inside the round brick oven.
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They cook for a few minutes, and she turns them regularly. Then she puts them into a basket to keep them warm until they are served.
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I tell her my mother and grandmother taught me to cook but that we don’t make tortillas, we make bread. I tease her about being a teacher and that I appreciate her tortilla escuela (school) and she smiles. She is patient and kind with this tourist, and I am grateful.

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