Just prior to my return to the States, I went on a horseback ride in Copan. The man who owned the horses accompanied Gabrielle and I on our ride. He was a sweet man, and we conversed as much as my limited Spanish would allow. Inevitably he asked if I was married, and inevitably, he became visibly uncomfortable when I said "no". In order to relieve him of his discomfort, I asked him if he was married. YES. So he began chattering about his family. He mentioned that his wife had already begun the preparations for all the tortillas and tamales for their family's Christmas celebration, even though Christmas was still a few weeks away. "I would love to learn how to make tortillas and tamales," I said.
"WHAT?!" came his incredulous reply. "You don't know how to make tortillas?! No wonder you aren't married! No man wants to marry a woman who does not know how to make tortillas!!"
So when I returned from vacation, I asked a friend to teach me the art of the tortilla. Corn tortillas, to be specific. I don't know how this works exactly...will I get a man of lesser degree because I do not know how to make flour tortillas yet? But I will keep you posted on any developments in that arena. Until then, here is how you make corn tortillas. Single lady friends...I hope it helps you. Married lady friends...I won't tell your husbands you didn't know how to make them until reading this. And fellas...here's how we do it. I hope you are still impressed with us, now that you know our secrets.
To begin, you will need:
water (tap water will suffice, unless you live in a land where tap water is unhealthy)
maseca (corn flour. I have been told that cornmeal gives less than superior results because it is too grainy. You should be able to get some corn flour in the Latin food section.)
a bowl to mix them in
a skillet (apparently in Honduras, they use a comal, which is designed for perfect tortillas. They tell me it is different from a skillet...but I don't believe them. It looks exactly like a skillet to me.)
a nylon (really a grocery bag cut into a circle, slightly larger than the size tortilla you desire. I don't know why they call them nylons.)
an incredibly dry surface to work on
a paper towel or small washcloth (dry)
Dump the flour and water in a bowl and start mushing it together with your hands. If you are a weird texture person, you will not be happy for the first 20 seconds or so. But I promise that if you stick it out, it will get better. It is best to begin with a flour to water ratio of about 2:1. You can add water as you need to until the desired consistency is reached. If you do not add enough water, your tortillas will crack, although they will still taste ok. You are looking for a consistency similar to playdough.
Once your dough is ready, take a piece in your hand. For a 6-inch tortilla, the dough should fit inside of your fist. For a bigger tortilla, obviously, use some more dough. Don't make a smaller size tortilla, or men will still not want to marry you.
Roll the dough into a ball, and then squish it a little bit. Place it in the center of your "nylon".
Now comes the fun part! With your strong hand, start patting the dough out, turning the dough a little with each pat. Because I am right-handed, I turn the dough clock-wise. I don't know if a lefty will want to turn it the other way or not. I guess, just do whatever is comfortable for you. As you turn, push the dough in with your other hand so the edges stay neat. If your counter is even slightly wet, your nylon will stick, and it will make it very difficult to turn your tortilla.
Now your tortilla is ready to cook. Heat your skillet on high until water skips on it if you flick it on there. Drop your tortilla onto the skillet, flat side up. (By flat side I mean the side that was on the nylon. The side your fingers were touching should be on the skillet.)
Leave your little tortilla on there for about 30 seconds, and then flip it over. Let it cook on the other side between 30-45 seconds. Then, flip it over again. Fold your paper towel or wash cloth and press down on the tortilla. It should puff up a little bit.
It is now ready to be eaten.
If you do not like to play with dough, you can cheat and use a tortilla smoosher.
Or if you do not want to purchase a tortilla smoosher, you can just set your ball of dough on the counter and smoosh it with the bottom of a pan or something. Make sure you still use the nylon, or else it will stick to your counter, and you won't be able to get it off while maintaining the delicious tortilla shape.
Now put your hands up! up! up!...