Toledo Stories and Tips

Tortilla Making

My tortilla! Photo, Toledo, Belize

On day 4 we had a number of excursion options. Some travelers went snorkeling. Though I could have been convinced to go, the added cost of chartering a boat for that trip made me consider a more relaxing and economical day.

My new friends and I opted to learn how to make tortillas with the locals instead. Once again, we loaded into the van for drive down the bumpy dirt roads into Santa Anna village. Fortunately, the trip was only 2 miles!

A wonderful Belizean woman invited us into her home and taught how to make corn tortillas which are a staple there.

We started by getting some dried corn from the storage bags and scraping the kernels off into a bowls. This is hard work and I was not very good at it.

Next, the kernels need to be boiled for a few hours with lime to remove the clear outer layer. The whole process happens over a wood fire. Just like a cooking show, there was a quick swap out with corn they had already prepared.

Next we washed the lime off of the corn and began grinding it. Again this was tough work, though I was definitely better at cranking the grinder. The corn needs to go through twice, and then it is ready.

The next step is forming the tortillas. After taking a small chunk of dough, you form it into a ball. Then it is flattened into a circle on a thin flexible plastic mat by hand. The last step before cooking the tortilla is peeling it away from the mat.

We placed the raw tortillas on the iron cooking plate that rested directly on the coals. Our teacher would flip the tortillas by hand without any pot holder.

It took us a few minutes to make a tortilla. The local woman made about 10 in the same amount of time that I could prepare one. She makes 75 tortillas for her family three times each day!

After the tortillas were cooked we prepared some fresh tomato sauce and some boiled eggs to make a small meal.

This was a great experience which really made me appreciate how easy we have it at home.

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