Monday, April 13, 2009

The Humble Taste of Fresh Tortillas

I recently put a call out to all of my foodie friends. As much as I relish in musing over relishes, this is my moonlighting, and I sure don't get to dine about or travel nearly as much as I'd like to. So I've asked for their stories. Meals that have made them swoon, delectable creations they couldn't resist photographing, secret treasures uncovered, and their seasoned travel savoir-faire. I am very excited to introduce this new realm of ChocoMeatdom!

Followers of my blog already know that I have a soft spot for fresh, warm tortillas. So when I asked my good friend Catherine of aflyonthewall to share some of her journey to Zihuatanejo, Mexico with ChocoMeat, I was all to pleased to get an entry about fresh Mexican tortillas in my inbox! Below is only an excerpt from her larger travel essay Travelouge: Zihuatanejo. Enjoy!

Our hopes of finding this “Supermercado” were high. My girlfriend Casey and I had been in Zihuatanejo, Mexico just a few days and we were eager to get bottled water, eggs and fresh tortillas all in one place. We knew the Supermercado would be the answer to all our vacation grocery needs.
We had spent the whole day on the beach and were on our way back to town. Once we walked up the hill from the shore, there was a bus waiting on the road — and by bus, I mean a vehicle that’s a little bigger than a mini van. So sure, we got on, not knowing where or when we’d get off or how much it’d cost. Oh, it’s five pesos? Great. That’s like a dime in US.
Soon after the bus started driving forward an old woman started shouting something in Spanish and the bus stopped. Perfect, that’s how it stops — got it.
We got off in our town and started asking how to get to the Supermercado. Many long blocks later walking alongside the decrepit canal we found it: the WalMart of our little village. It was huge. They sold everything from mattresses to mangos. I went a little crazy in the bakery department. Casey got her yogurt. But we couldn’t find one of the things we were sure they had: tortillas. I had walked up and down the aisles and checked their chilled section — where the hell did they keep them?
“Excuse, senorita?” I stopped the next uniformed employee I saw.
“Donde las tortillas?”
“Con maize?” She asked.
She led us to the gargantuan section in the back of the store under the giant sign that read: Tortillas. Whoops, how’d I miss that big clue? There were some women behind the counter working around a machine. They appeared to be making tortillas — but I didn’t see any. The counter had a festive cloth, but nope, no tortillas. Ok, whatever, I’ll just chill here until they make the next batch. They must be out or something. Shouldn’t they stock more tortillas? I guess we’re not in a hurry. That’s weird though. I mean, we’re in the Mexican WalMart; they should have tortillas…
“Just one package?” the woman asked.
She lifts up the cloth the reveal rows upon rows of freshly made tortillas wrapped in paper. She hands us the closest package. My face breaks into a smile. “Oh my God, they’re so warm! Gracias!” Oh my God, I’m so lame.
After the woman walked away, I realized something else. Her uniform didn’t even match anyone else’s who was working in the store. The fact that she was buying a Coke in front of us in the checkout line was another clue that she didn’t even work there. I hoped she didn’t see me. I was too embarrassed. I clutched the tortillas closer to my chest and wished they’d stay warm forever.

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