When the Spaniards first arrived in Mexico, the natives were already making flatbread using corn meal. The Spaniards did not like the idea of eating bread made from corn so they modified the bread-making by substituting wheat flour. The result was what is known today as flour tortilla. And although the corn-based flatbread of the native Mexicans predates flour tortilla, they weren’t called tortilla at the time because the term “tortilla” came with the arrival of the Spaniards. It is the Spanish word for “little cake”.
Tortilla, whether made with wheat flour or corn meal, is an unleavened bread. The dough contains no yeast or any other ingredient to make it rise. Tortilla dough shouldn’t rise because tortilla is a flatbread.
To make tortilla, flour or corn meal is mixed with water and salt. The dough is kneaded, rested and divided into portions. Each portion is rolled to a thickness of less than an eighth of an inch then cooked in a pan or grill. The procedure sounds simple but rolling the dough flat is a laborious process.
For those who don’t want to experience making tortilla from scratch, there is factory-made tortilla available in groceries. There is flour tortilla, corn tortilla, whole wheat tortilla and even a greenish tortilla purportedly made with spinach.
When buying tortilla, always check the expiration date first. The nearer the expiration date, the more likely that the tortilla is on the verge of drying out.
To reheat grocery-bought tortilla, thaw until the flatbreads can be separated. Sprinkle the tortilla with a little water (oh, please, not oil!) then lay on a hot oilless frying pan or griddle. When the underside develops some dark spots, flip over and heat the opposite side.
If not using all the tortillas in the pack, transfer to a resealable bag and keep in the freezer.