Making Guatemalan Tortillas

Making Guatemalan Tortillas

Blame this photo on Eric, who just yesterday invoked the tortilla-making ladies.

It is interesting how the aroma of freshly-made tortillas can be so haunting. This is especially true for Guatemalans who are not used having tortillas not made the same day or even within the same hour. It’s funny now that I think about it, I’d never seen tortillas sold in the supermarkets like they do in the U.S. or even in Mexico, packaged and with produced and expirations dates. How about that?

Well, the aroma of tortillas just coming out of the comal can be equal to the aroma of bread coming out the oven. Especially if you grew up with tortillas made los tres tiempos (can somebody explain this custom).

Tortillas, unlike bread, are even more versatile: you can fold or roll them; you can tear them apart; you can use them in tacos or burritos if they are large enough; you can fry them or toast them and use them as tostada shells; you can use them as utisels as explained by LD in her Miss Manners International entry: “Gotta love the tortilla, which is essentially another utensil. It can push food onto your fork, wipe up extra sauce in your place.” Tortillas can be tiny, like in garnachas, or huge like in tlayudas; tortillas can be thin like in the average Mexican tortilla or thick like the Guatemalan pishtones. Tortillas can be found in several colors like red, black, yellow and white. You can add stuff to the tortillas at the time of cooking and turn them into pupusas or Mayan pizzas as I like to call them. You can use tortillas as wrappers for the carnitas and chicharrones.

Man, I could on and on talking about different ways of eating or using tortillas in Guatemala. I feel again like Bubba, the character from the Forest Gump movie.

Did I miss anything?

© 2009 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Yummy photo! I want to try some! What do you put in them?!

  • Jerry T

    Yummy, I wish I had a stack of freshly made Guatemalan tortillas. I love them. They were one of my favorite things in Guatemala. Of course, I love tortillas of any kind, even the ones out of bags with expiration dates!

  • Lisa

    los tres tiempos = 3 times a day, so you can eat them fresh morning, noon and night!

  • Eric

    No ! Not the tortilla ladies ! Rudy, you are a cruel, cruel man. Now, I really need 1) A half-dozen fresh tortillas (somehow, I force down the supermarket kind…LOTS of tequila), and 2) I need the phone numbers of the lovely tortilla ladies. Dios mio, Guatemala es un bello pais !
    Great perspective on the photo, Rudy – and, of course, my favorite subject matter. I’ll be packing my backpack any day now. Save me a Moza, por favor !

  • Dude, you can’t beat fresh, handmade tortillas made within the hour! Especially if they are the blue tortillas!! Mmmmmm… I’ll never be able to eat a packaged tortilla again even though that’s what I grew up on in the States. My friend from Australia says they don’t have tortillas… not even packaged ones. How crazy is that???

    These women make it look so easy… but… it’s not!

  • Eric

    I just wanted to second Laura’s comment, re: las tortillas azules … Indeed, they are the best ! I wish I could stuff my backpack full of the things and bring them home. Eating the packaged ones and saying you’ve tried tortillas is like ordering a big-mac at McFastFood’s and saying you’ve tried hamburgers. Not. The. Same.
    @Laura, thanks for the image of blue corn tortillas. Now I’m starving.

  • Erick

    Tortillas with frijoles, chicharrones, carnitas, crema, queso, caldo, or heck, even with just salt and some lime-juice will taste great; especially while they’re still hot.

    @Laura: Agreed, tortilla-making is definitely no easy feat. And not just that, I don’t understand how they can grab the edge of them to flip them over while that comal is crazy hot.

  • Kim


    I just wanted to comment that I grew up in Guate and every morning, noon, and evening for dinner my grandmother would send me down the street to the tortillera who worked all day until supper making those hot fresh tortillas. I loved them! I would have them even as a snack with a little bit of butter and salt on them. Delicious! That picture brought back memories.

  • emromesco

    Pues I get my tortillas from La Tortilleria. They are “Mexican” style but they are “machine-made” onsite. Not the same, I know… sometimes my partner will make some on the stovetop with some Maseca (them fighting words Rudy, eh?).

  • Really hot tortillas with salt….nothing beats that; well unless you had my same luck as to find a restaurant in Parramos where they have tortillas negras, yummy…

  • Sylvia D

    Ha…tortillas Guatemaltecas you can’t beat that!!! but…when you don’t have them in St. Louis….well you have to make your own, that is what I do. I learned from my mom as she learned from her mom that had a store o “tienda” in Guatemala and made their own tortillas and tamales rojos y negros (red and black tamales). so for these holidays specially for Christmas my mom and I make tamales Guatemaltecos and we make tortillas all the time…Mmmm!! DELICIOSO!!!!

  • Erin

    Last year, during a short visit, we went to Posada de Don Rodrigo for lunch and there were a couple of ladies making tortillas negras… I am going to confess that when the waitress came to our table with a basket full of these wonderful tortillas negras, I wrapped them very carefully in the green napking, put them into my purse and got rid of the basket putting it on another table! Shame? not at all, with my sweetest smile I called another waitress and asked her if she could bring us a basket with tortillas while waiting for our food.

  • jesse turcios

    guatemalans like to eat fresh meals just because we’re picky when it comes to what we eat