Thursday, January 21, 2010

On the Hunt: Tortillas Part 1: The Tortilla Transfer

I've decided to create a new series called "On The Hunt", to document my experiences trying to find obscure ingredients where I live.  I started thinking about this after we had so much trouble finding truffles for New Year's Eve, but after a friend called a couple of weeks ago to talk about tortillas I realized it would definitely be a good idea.

The call came about mid-day, and luckily I was at home so I had plenty of time to talk.  We talked a lot about food, and how hard it is to find good tortillas around here, which is unacceptable since we live in the Southwest.  He mentioned he was going to visit family in Tucson the next day and asked if I would like some empanadas and tortillas.  Of course I said yes - I would've been crazy not to take him up on the offer.  The catch - I had to drive out to meet him near the freeway on his way home from Tucson.

No problem - who wouldn't drive 30 miles late at night to pick up fresh Mexican baked goods in a gas station parking lot?

The transfer: Freshly made tortillas being handed off in the Circle K parking lot.  In the background one can see the large stash of Mexican fare in the trunk of the car.

Up to this point my friend hadn't really been exposed to the crazy blogger side of me. He was surprised when I ran up to him with a camera around my neck and asked him to pose with tortillas in front of all these strangers at the gas station. I guess I should have eased him into the zany world of being friend to a food blogger instead of springing it on him in such a public place.  The food blog Not Quite Nigella has a perfect introduction on what to expect from a food blogger called "10 Things You Should Know About Food Bloggers"- if you plan on being a friend of a food blogger you should definitely read it so you're not suddenly surprised by outrageous behavior.

I took the tortillas and empanadas home with me and with the help of my brother and his girlfriend, devoured most of what he brought us right away.  The food came from South Tucson - the Mexican barrio side of town - and were as authentic as I hoped they would be.  The empanadas were surprising - pumpkin and apple instead of the usual meat kind I've had.  They were fluffy and moist with excellent sugary yet spicy filling - like little pies.

Empanadas - two with a pumpkin filling and two with an apple filling

The tortillas were fantastic as well - you could tell they weren't processed by a machine.  Slightly uneven with that fresh tortilla smell, they were a perfect snack with the butter we smeared on them after heating them over the gas burner.  They even stayed fresh for a while - I was able to have real breakfast burritos for a few days.

Fresh tortillas, one of the best things about the Southwest.

Surprisingly the same friend that brought these tortillas to me has offered to bring me with him to some Mexican stores around the valley on a hunt for real, non-machine made tortillas.  Evidently my camera didn't intimidate him as much as I thought it had.  I guess I did neglect to mention to him that the camera would be coming with me on our next adventure.  Hopefully he's ready to be followed around by the paparazzi like the Mexican superstar that he is.  

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