Saturday, February 9, 2013

Every Mexican has a story...

Yes. Every Mexican has a story about how their mom or grandmother made tortillas de harina. These days the culture of convenience is robbing the art of home made full of TLC goodness tortillas. Tonight, talking to my friend Toni about page 27 of the Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child, brought on conversation and reminiscing of our childhood experiences with tortillas!

Toni would wake up to her grandma in a cozy blue robe, patting at the dough and rolling it out into perfectly round masterpieces. Greg talked about having some warm tortillas with Mexican hot chocolate around the kitchen table. For me, it was my watching my gramma's super soft hands pinch the perfect amount of dough, patting it, and rolling it out...the sound of the rolling pin turning. Then the smell of the tortilla against the heated comal. Right off the comal, my gramma would put butter on it and roll it up for us. Or "helping" my mom make them. It was more of a white powder mess than anything...but that rolling pin - I want to inherit it. I can seriously imagine the view out of the kitchen window while my mom, my brother Aser and I made tortillas. Vivid memories. 

It is a love language that is losing its voice!!

In case you're wondering what page 27 said here it goes: 

White flour tortillas. Fresh stacks of them three times a day. Amá was always busy, always moving, in her typical take-charge way. She threw the flour in the bowl, mixed in the manteca quickly and then sprinkled it with scalding hot water. The dough, clean and creamy white, looked like the smooth, almost transparently clean skin of her face. 
Quickly she transformed the bowl of white ingredients into a bowl of soft tistalles, the biscuit-sized mounds of tortilla dough.
Then she began to get the comal ready. When the cast-iron griddle glowed red hot, she wet a washcloth and wiped the griddle to clean it. It made a sizzling-hot clean sound. Ready. 
She took the palote and began to roll the first tortilla. One, two, three rolls with half turns in between and it was ready. She swirled the tortilla onto the comal. As the tortilla absorbed the heat, it bubbled just slightly. By the time one side had cooked and it was ready to turn, she had rolled out another one. The aroma of the cooking tortillas on the hot comal overshadowed the smell of wet dough. 
She swirled the second one onto the second place on the comal, turned the first one, pressed out the bubbles with a slight pressure of her hand, and then started to roll out the next one. Her hands were in the wet, lardy dough and over the intense heat of the comal three times a day. This kept them soft, smooth, and pliant. 
Overwhelmed, as always, by the aroma of the fresh brown and white tortillas, I went to find the butter. I had my plate ready and the paper pulled back on the butter stick so I could use it to smear butter on the first tortilla. I asked for it and she swirled it onto my plate, not breaking her stride.
I bit into my childhood. It tasted sweet and salty and hot and clean. It tasted of my mother. Of her hands and her love for me. It tasted pure and clean and good.
By the time I finished it, she had a stack of tortillas done. I watched her in the steps of her dance. Swirl, roll, turn...then press, turn, roll. She never missed a beat. A consummate dancer. My heart swelled with contentment and love for her. Mi amacita.
Seriously. It is LOVE. There's no doubt about it. I love page 27. I love tortillas de harina. But most of all I love the ladies whose labor of love tasted so delicious and whose love, it is...whose love is home.

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