Monday, January 4, 2010

Chicano Tortillas

My household recently braved the making of homemade tortillas. This brought back memories of growing up blissfully eating grandma’s and my nina’s warm, aromatic, chewy, flour tortillas with butter and freshly fried beans. BTW: I was a husky (read fat) kid weighing 175lbs. in the 3rd grade. Even though my grandma taught her daughter (my nina) to make tortillas, they had a uniqueness all their own—kind of like beans. They used the same ingredients but they tasted different—equally delightful but different. Each used a metal pipe cured by the rolling out of thousands of tortillas. In trying to roll out a few this week end with a pocho wooden rolling pin, they came out close to being symmetrically round in shape. In the past, the more I tried to shape a semi-thin, circular tortilla like grandma’s the more it came out looking the like the contiguous United States.

When I was attending Moorpark College, I regularly stopped by my grandparents’ house to have lunch with freshly made tortillas. The comal heated their small kitchen and the toasted flour gave their home an embracing aroma. Although my grandma and grandpa are now deceased, their humble home still exist off a dirt road paralleling Walnut Canyon Road in Moorpark, against a hill blanketed with nopales, right by a drainage ditch. After transferring to Fresno State, I would visit them to practice my ever deteriorating capability to speak Spanish on my way back to Fresnal and take with me a stack of tortillas which I stashed away from my roommates. If I felt generous I would share them with my Mission Hills/San Fernando roommate, Dan. I will keep on trying to perfect my tortilla-making abilities as it will re-connect me to my ancestors. Making tortillas, I figure, will be much easier to master than trying to retrieve my capacity to speak a comprehensible Spanish. I hope to pass on this memory to my traviesos.



Christina Cabral said...

If you can't get your hands on a "palote" the rolling pin from a relative, maybe try going to Home Depot and get some thin piping. It's pretty much the same.
In professor Corbett's class a year ago as a final experience we made dumplings, and I found it curious that the same rolling pin he used for dumplings was similar if not exact to the palote. Good luck on your tortilla ventures! I tried making them several months ago, mine were also to thick.

Frank P. Barajas said...

Good idea, Christina. The pipe that my grandma and nina used was thin in diameter.