Domingo’s Tortilla Factory
To view on YouTube – go to http://youtu.be/dNuPZccWaxE
Tortillas, which mean “little cakes,” date back to around 10,000 BC. Initially made of native corn, today they are a staple of most Central American countries. Tortillas come in a number of different sizes and are often used in place of utensils to scoop up food or gravy.
There are several signs indicating tortilla “factories” in most towns in Belize. A factory might be a small shack with one woman hand patting dough on a cast iron slab, or a crude machine manufacturing this ubiquitous food.
Whenever I drive my golf cart to town in San Pedro for groceries, one of my favorite stops is our local tortilla joint – Domingo’s Tortilla Factory. Open from early morning until 2 pm, it is a hub of activity and I usually encounter a line of people waiting to purchase corn tortillas, flour tortillas, and fresh corn chips. This is also on my “must see” places for visitors to Ambergris Caye! Everyone delights in watching the steps involved in producing the corn tortillas from fresh Masa flour. It’s such a popular stop on my “tour” that I decided to shoot the video that accompanies this post.
For $1.00 (USD) one can purchase a 1 pound package of the 5-inch, very thin tortillas, which usually contains about 40 individual flatbreads. They can be used for tacos, burritos, tortilla chips, flautas and enchiladas. I prefer the corn tortillas, which are more fragile and smaller in diameter than the higher gluten flour tortillas. My grandsons absolutely adore warmed tortillas with melted cheese –”more tortillas please” becomes their mantra.
I love eating the steaming little tortillas plain when they are still fresh, so I try to make this my final grocery stop before heading home for lunch. Otherwise I gently warm them in a frying pan with a little water to keep them soft. I then melt grated cheese on top and layer fresh tomato, cilantro and some shaved cabbage on top. A few drops of hot sauce make this an easy appetizer. The only downside is that corn tortillas don’t have much of a shelf life (1-2 days in the fridge at most).
Below is a fancier version of what I create for lunch or appetizers while I am in Belize. All the ingredients are readily available at nearly every produce stand throughout the town, and if you’re making this in the US, you could certainly improvise and exchange vegetables depending on the season. In place of avocado, you could use refried beans too. Also, Maseca (instant cornmeal flour) is easy to find at most supermarkets in the US. The recipe for tortillas on the back of the packaged corn meal is simple to follow too. I have made them in a cast iron skillet, and was shocked at what a breeze it was. Of course they turn out about ¼ inch or thicker instead of paper thin like the factory tortillas.
Makes around 10
- 1 fresh avocado-scooped out of skin and mashed with fork
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup ripe tomatoes – seeded and chopped
- ½ cup zucchini – shredded
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of 1 fresh lime
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh white cheese – about 1 Tbsp per tortilla
- Hot sauce (Marie Sharp’s habenero is my favorite)
Mash avocado with a fork and add a bit of lime juice while continuing preparation of the rest of the veggies.
Combine shredded carrots, zucchini, and tomato with olive oil and the remaining lime. Add cilantro, salt and pepper to taste and set aside so the flavors combine for ten minutes or so.
Take a fresh tortilla, spread with some of the mashed avocado, then top with the vegetable mixture. Grate some fresh white cheese on top (In Belize I use Edam, but any soft cheese would be great). Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and a few drops of hot sauce.
See more at Wanderfood Wednesday.