My maternal grandfather would revisit the story about the rise of neighborhood tortillería time and time again (like elders do). It was quite the topic at their lunch break (back in the day) and his co-workers would tease him for his store-bought tortillas, that could be eyed from a mile away with their perfect round proportions. Their mujeres made them from scratch, they would boast. His retort? Well, he saved her hours of work at a comal in the sweltering temps of urban Merida, and the pesos spent were worth his wife’s saved labor. I can, even now, remember the prideful rise in his voice as he bragged to his grandkids about being able to take care of his wife and help her in this small way.
So, my mother grew up in a house with tortillas from the corner molino and I grew up with what was available in Texas grocery stores (warmed over an open flame to make them palatable). Convenience still leads the way in my own kitchen with a mix of corn tortillas from the grocery store and local tortillerías always at hand for tacos, but every once and a while I bust out the masa harina and make them from scratch.
The shockingly cold temps this morning meant I craved warmth so I turned to the comal for the very reason that generations of my own family had turned to the corner tortillería – heat.
Pictured: fresh and warm corn tortilla with smear of refried beans.