The dictionary defines nostalgia as “A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” What a beautiful word, it alone evokes so many beautiful and wonderful memories from my life. Even though I haven’t always been so interested or passionate about food and what goes into preparing a meal for your loved ones, I have so many memories around food. Mexican celebrations always involve food, lots of food. Every occasion grand or as small as having a friend stop by for coffee requires food to share.
I’ve been very lucky to have had the opportunity to live in 4 different countries and visit countless. All of those countries have smells that immediately transport me back. CR, sizzling deliciously greasy sausages cooking at the many food stalls down a main square. France, warm buttery croissants for breakfast every morning. USA, My father’s fresh baked Mexican breads, my mother’s posole, and all of the amazing food my sisters cooked for me (both Mexican and American food). Mexico, the enticing smells coming from the kitchen every Monday when all of the aunts, uncles and cousins gathered at abuelita Toña’s (grandmother Antonia) house for our weekly get-together. My grandmother’s warming tea, from the leaves of her lime tree, that she made for us on those chilly rainy days. This doesn’t even touch on the foods from our travels, I could go on and on but I won’t.
One of my fondest childhood memories is of my abuelita spoiling, in her own way, her son-in-law, that would be my Papi (father). She would hear that he was coming to visit her and went into her kitchen to prepare a special treat for my Papi. She would make him homemade flour tortillas. I never saw her do this for anyone else and often wonder if even though she is now in her 80s still makes tortillas when my father is vacationing in Mexico. Her tortillas were so soft, warm and unlike any other I have ever tasted.
You may be wondering what the big deal is about flour tortillas, they are not commonly found in my hometown. Flour tortillas are not as common as corn tortillas on every Mexican table. They seem to be consumed the most in the northern states of Mexico and in Americanized Tex-Mex cuisine.
My mother also makes amazing flour tortillas, and it was a special treat we had every once in a while or when we ran out of corn tortillas. I would watch my mom prepare the dough, divide it into small balls and roll them out so fast that she could almost keep up with us scarfing them down. I was too busy eating and being a rebellious teenager to see the exact ingredients and appreciate the work that goes into making flour tortillas. But at least I could acknowledge that my mother’s tortillas were the best tortillas ever made by anyone in the US, period!
The first time I tasted commercial flour tortillas I was so disturbed that they could even be called and sold as flour tortillas, disgusting. To me they tasted and smelled like plastic, perhaps due to the preservatives. If those “tortilla” try coming in my house it usually involves me putting up a fight. Don’t get me wrong I am not passing judgement on people who buy those tortillas. I was just spolied by my grandmother and mother with incomparable tasting tortillas. I won’t lie to you though, there have been times when I’ve just been too busy or ill to make flour tortillas. So the plastic dough disks have entered my kitchen on a few occasions. But we’ll conveniently forget about those times, okay.
It has been about 6 years since I started making my own homemade flour tortillas. My husband would agree that they are the best he’s ever had. OK, ok so my gringo husband had only tasted commercial before trying homemade, but still he would tell me if they sucked. Since my mom is so far away and I couldn’t just stop by for some lessons, I had to work hard and practice hard until my tortillas turned out perfect. Now that I’m not the smart-ass rebellious teenager I could go into the kitchen with my mom and listen to her, if only she wasn’t on the other side of the world. One day for sure, and perhaps I’ll even make her proud that I finally learned to cook, hehe.
Though it has been 6 years, making homemade tortillas has never become boring or repetitive to me. It is because every time I reach for the flour, water, salt and oil, I think of my Papi. I think about how my grandmother knew my father is a great man, one most deserving of the best homemade flour tortillas in the world. The first bite immediately transports me to my mother’s house and the smell of the tortillas on the comal, nostalgic indeed.
You can find my homemade flour tortilla recipe in An Epiphany of The Senses, my cookbook.
What is your most nostalgic food? Share in the comments, if you like. Have a great weekend everyone.