Tag Archives: Mexican history

A Story Too Good Not To Tell Acapulco Part 7

17 Mar

Our beach vacation to Acapulco in 1973 was a step into a very different world from today. Heck, it was a different world from the rest of Mexico in 1973. The family we stumbled upon was operating a kitchen to feed a group of men who slept by day and fished by night. Maria, the chief cook was unfazed by a few more mouths to feed, hospitality at its best.

Our days began with breakfast which included fish in all its variations. The men were fishing in small boats by gas lantern and our meal had been caught the night before.

The child to the left retrieved water from God knows where with buckets balanced on poles across her shoulders.

The tortillas that were part of every meal were hand formed and cooked on a flat iron griddle called a comal. The comal was balanced on bricks over a hot wood fire. Maria delivered the tortillas to the table and we could barely retrieve them from the traditional woven basket in the center. Her hands were smooth leather and the piping hot corn disks tasted like no tortillas I had ever eaten then or since.

Staying in such a remote location we had to question where everything we consumed came from. There was no quick trip down the street to a little tortillaría or person who showed up on a scooter to deliver a kilo or two. Today, every restaurant in Bacalar has a delivery scooter on speed dial.

Tortillas are still a staple of Mexican diet.

One day a man showed up in camp leading a donkey with two burlap bags of corn cobs slung over its back. Maria and grandma shucked the corn and put the kernels to soak in a tub of water with lime powder. The process is called nixtamalization and causes the kernels to break down. Most tortillas in Mexico today are made from highly processed corn flour and taste like cardboard. The softened corn is then fed into a hand grinder and made into masa and the best tortillas in the world.

Non-GMO corn is quite tough.
The stock photo setup that is far more sophisticated than Maria had.

Few Mexicans today have ever tasted real tortillas. You can buy masa to press and grill your own, but the dough is made from highly processed corn flour.

A simple tortilla press can be found in most homes. Today you can buy ones that press and cook the tortillas right at the table, similar to a waffle iron.

The family we stayed with worked hard. But after the stunning Pacific sunset, a gas lantern provided the only light, and intense games of dominos ensued. One of my companions brought his guitar which was a big hit. Thinking back, all I can say is, “what an experience “.



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