How to Choose the Right Tortilla: Corn vs Flour
Tortillas mean different things depending on where you go in the world. In the mainland of Spain, ordering a tortilla will result in a thick and delicious cake of eggs and other tasty ingredients like potato, fresh vegetables and herbs. In Mexico, you'll receive some freshly made flat and flexible corn tortillas, toasty warm and ready to fill with meats and other tasty ingredients. In the USA, you're likely to get flat tortillas made with wheat instead. So which one is the right tortilla? Aside from the Spanish tortilla that is rarely served here, there are only a few major differences between these two staples of Mexican food in America.
The sheer weight of history and usage in Mexico makes the corn tortilla a clear winner regarding authenticity, but that's no reason to disparage the flour tortilla. Corn tortillas were developed in Mayan culture and continue to be made the same way by millions of people today. They're usually as thin as possible and quite flexible until heated. The tortillas are only partially cooked when packaged and require a light toasting on a hot griddle or frying pan, with no oil, before use. They're also the most versatile type of tortilla to keep in the kitchen. With the same pack of plain white or yellow corn tortillas, you can make:
- All the usual dishes like tacos, burritos, quesadillas and enchiladas.
- Deep-fried treats like taquitos and chimichangas (wheat tortillas don't taste as good when fried).
- Fresh tortilla chips simply by quartering small rounds and frying them until crisp.
- Other specialty dishes like migas, nachos and casseroles that rely on the stronger flavor and softer texture of a corn tortilla.
When it comes to Mexican food made here in America, most of it uses flour tortillas instead. The use of wheat instead of corn makes the resulting product Kosher, and it also offers a less assertive, sweeter flavor that many people prefer. The flour variety is soft and does not need toasting, but is a little chewier than an untoasted corn tortilla. They're widely used outside of Mexican cooking because they're a form of flatbread that needs no further cooking, making it easy to roll up wraps and other meals.
Choosing the Right One
It's mainly a choice of personal preference when choosing between corn and flour. Some dishes rely on the corn flavor or texture, and you don't want to try to turn leftover flour tortillas into chips. Aside from a difference here and there, the two are mostly interchangeable for the majority of Mexican dishes. Feel free to order your meals here at Papa Lopez Mexican Cantina and we'll make a suggestion if a specific dish tastes best with a particular type of tortilla. We have both in stock in the kitchen and are happy to customize your meal for you.