Anything Inside A Tortilla

by Matt on October 13, 2008

Anything-inside-intro

Spend enough time with me and inevitably you’ll find yourself asking me the
same question. Because almost everyone I know has asked me.

“You’d put anything inside a tortilla and eat it, wouldn’t you?”

Ok, so maybe it’s a bit rhetorical, but the truth of the matter is that
yes, I would put just about everything inside a tortilla and chances
are I have at some point. But don’t laugh — I come to this place from
a long line of those who have done this before, from tortilla eating
people and a culture that has been enjoying them some 10,000 years
before Jesus Christ.

It’s genetic.

I probably don’t need to tell you the importance of the tortilla to my
family growing up. Almost every culture has their version of bread,
sometimes as side staple, from naan to bagel to lavosh. And tortillas
were present with almost every meal I ever ate. We didn’t eat Mexican
food everyday (how boring would that have been?) but I do remember my
father getting up from the table to heat a tortilla or two when they
weren’t served with whatever we were eating at that moment. And my
earliest memories involve my grandmother making them from scratch, a
task only reserved for special occasions since the grocery store
variety seemed to suffice. And that is how I learned that this flat
piece of griddled dough, whether flour or corn, could find its way into
almost every meal with grace and harmony.

I was standing around the kitchen with something wrapped inside a
tortilla (Animal? Mineral? Vegetable? I simply cannot recall) when Adam
walked in and gave me that smirk. It was a smirk that only someone
close to you can give you that won’t result in a pop on their head with
the back of a hand or a verbal altercation. It silently said “there you go putting something inside yet another tortilla, you strange little ethnic man, you.”
Before
I get hate mail let me say he is not a racist but was merely pointing
out cultural differences the way only a spouse can do. Let’s not get
huffy here people, please.

I spent a few days thinking about how all this is true and how tortillas
do make the perfect utensil for all sorts of foods. My mind began to
recall my kitchen moments where I wrapped whatever I could find in a
corn or flour blanket and it got me thinking about this post. Is it
really possible to put just about anything in a tortilla and enjoy it
on the go? Are tortillas reserved for Mexican food only or am I
succumbing to my ancestors’ culinary needs? I decided to put it all to
the test.

Matt’s Anything Inside A Tortilla Test

For the sake of my taste test I used flour tortillas.  Corn tortillas would
have been fine for the more savory items but I opted for flour to level
the playing field.

Rocky-road

Rocky Road Ingredients Without The Ice Cream
Up To The Tortilla Test: FAIL

I like chocolate, I like nuts, I sometimes even like marshmallows, but I did not like this combination inside a tortilla. I suppose if I was six it’d be just fine, but then again if I was six I’d put oreos and gummy worms in a tortilla and be happy. But this one? Not so much. You can’t blame me for trying.

Hot-dogs
Hot Dogs with Sauerkraut & Mustard
Up To The Tortilla Test: Hell To The Yes, PASS

Stick with me during this tortilla test and you’ll see that almost any protein works marvelously inside a tortilla. There are exceptions to this rule. But a wiener ain’t one of them! I will offer you my full confession by telling you that I eat as many hot dogs in tortillas as I do in hot dog buns, complete with relish, mustard and even sauerkraut. You should try it. But whatever you do please do not call any of them Roll Ups or Wraps! That’s wrong. Almost as wrong as the next test…

Pate-de-foie-gras

Pate de Foie Gras with Cornichon
Up To The Tortilla Test: If I was stoned perhaps. But I don’t do drugs so FAIL.

File this under “exceptions to the rule”, please. While the flavor combination wasn’t terribly bad the textures just didn’t work too well. Quesadilla, maybe? I dunno. All I know is that a tortilla really doesn’t match the satiny mouthfeel of pate too well. And this is probably the first and last time a cornichon will ever meet a tortilla. Best to probably keep it that way.

Peanut-butter-banana-and-ho

Peanut Butter, Banana & Honey
Up To The Tortilla Test: Elvis & My Mom Have Spoken: Yes (or si
)

This is an unfair contestant in my test as I grew up eating this combination. It’s damn near perfect and you don’t have to agree with me but I should warn you that you’ll have to take up your disapproval with Helen Armendariz, my mom. She’ll be all nicey nicey to you at first and ask you why you don’t like this combination and then without you ever realizing it she’ll switch into “Helen Mode” which turns your blood into shards of ice and then your legs will become very heavy and your lips will turn purple and you’ll be able to hear crickets and insects from 4 counties away and then she’ll turn the death ray off after which you’ll suddenly learn to love Peanut Butter & Banana on Tortillas and then she’ll make you another one while smiling and invite you to stay the night. It’s just how it works. Don’t fight it. Or else.

Nutella-&-strawberries
Nutella & Strawberries
Up To The Tortilla Test: Delightfully so!

The similarities to crepes are obvious here and that’s why this was such a pleasure to eat. Spread nutella on a tortilla, add berries, fold and enjoy! I was feeling a bit daring and actually put the composed snack back into a hot pan for a few seconds to toast the tortilla even a bit more. Gooey, sweet, delicious. I’ll definitely be making this.

Channa-masala

Chana Masala
Up To The Tortilla Test: An Indian Burrito That Passed With Flying Colors

You might think my Test was really just items that replaced their cultural counterparts with Tortillas. That wasn’t the case at all. If that was tue I’d only pick pizza toppings or Indian food. But this? This right here? Heavenly. Garbanzos in spices with a soft, warm doughy tortilla? It’s a cross-cultural bean burrito that makes me wonder why I never did this before. It’s not even one of those “hey this might take some getting used to but I could dig it” kind of things. It’s just good from the first bite. But it still won’t replace my love of Naan. No way.

Caramel-apple

Caramel Apple
Up To The Tortilla Test: Some Things Are Better Left Undone. FAIL.

Oh challenge, I have failed you! In theory I wanted to like this: crunchy apples, doughy tortilla, caramelly caramel, but in reality it just didn’t work. Things don’t always have to be like that SNL Taco Time skit. In fact, some things are just better left undone. Now, maybe if I had used apple pie filling……

Larb-gai

Larb Gai
Up To The Tortilla Test: One Of The Best Things I Tasted, Pass Indeed!

Larb Gai is a Thai salad of chicken, lime juice, fish sauce, mint, chili and onion and garnished with cabbage slices. It’s sometimes made with pork (known as Larb Moo- thank you for the corrections!) as pictured above. Spicy pork with a lime tang coupled with the cabbage crunch and warm tortilla? I don’t have to tell you that this one was a home run, straight outta the ballpark! Why on earth did I just write sports references? Anyone? But seriously, it seems that many Asian recipes work so well when they’re put inside a tortilla. Just wait for the last entry. I’m excited just thinking about it.

Pumpkin-pie

Pumpkin Pie
Up To The Tortilla Test: Why? What Was I Thinking? FAIL, never again please.

Me and my bright ideas. I thought a toasted, slightly crunchy tortilla would be fun with pumpkin pie filling, a crumble of graham cracker crust and a happy dollop of whipped cream. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. Please note that I don’t mind sweet tortilla things but this one was just icky. The only way I could make it better was to create a scenario in my mind where the Pilgrims arrived not in Plymouth Rock but in Guanajuato or Chihuahua after taking that wrong turn in Albuquerque and they brought their traditions to Mexico which led to modern day traditions like Quinceaneras without big white prom dresses but black boots and brown suits with massive belt buckles. How hilarious would that be? Almost as funny as me thinking this might actually taste good.

Pork-belly-&-hoisin

Pork Belly, Hoisin & Pickled Vegetables
Up To The Tortilla Test: What Do You Think? I Don’t Even Have To Tell You.

I love pork belly. I mean, I like it so much that it makes me cry. I’m sure you do too, provided your name isn’t Meg from Pasadena. So anyway, you might know that I go to NYC every few months for work stuff but what you may not know is that every trip involves at least two visits to any of the Momofukus for David Chang’s Pork Belly Buns. It’s to the point where I don’t care if I eat anything else really– those things are lifechanging and satisfy my tastebuds like nothing else. So because I have neither the patience nor wherewithal to recreate his recipe I opted for the next best thing. Slow roasted pork belly that was brined in a sugar & salt solution, sweet thick hoisin sauce and Adam’s pickled vegetables (daikon, carrot, garlic and cucumber) all get wrapped up inside a fluffy tortilla for something that illicits the strongest of emotional reactions from deep within my soul. Go ahead, say that I’m laying it on thick and speaking in hyperbole, I don’t really care. Because if you tasted this (again, provided your name isn’t Meg and you’re from Pasadena), you’d no doubt share my enthusiasm and love for it. I could have easily written an entire post about these tacos but I was too busy eating.


************************************************************************************************

And that, my dearest readers, is my Tortilla Test which proves that I’ll almost eat anything when it’s wrapped inside a tortilla. I said ALMOST.


{ 139 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss LK October 29, 2008 at 11:34 am

I just came across this website. This post about tortilla was so inspiring that I ran out to get some last night anticipating fun experiments.

great thinking outside the WRAP, savory or sweet!

maris October 29, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I can’t believe you didn’t let Martha in on your hot dog tortilla for her hot dog show! :) I guess you’ll just have to go back again!

I’m bummed that the pumpkin pie tortilla didn’t work. I’m pretty obsessed with pumpkin.

diva October 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm

love this post! i’ll eat anything in a tortilla too..be it chili, fajita ingredients, just cheese, tuna and corn, melted chocolate you tell me! out of all your options, i’m going for pumpkin pie and nutella with strawberries..gosh…i’m hungry for tortillas now :) x

valerie October 30, 2008 at 1:24 am

great !
I never think to put something sweet inside !
good ideas !
have a nice day
val from france

Carrie Oliver October 30, 2008 at 9:31 am

This is a BRILLIANT post, thank you for the laughs and fun suggestions. I can’t wait to experiment a bit myself. If I missed, it, I apologize – do you ever make your grandmother’s recipe and if so, do you share? I love making things from scratch, such fun to mess up the kitchen.

Vidhya October 31, 2008 at 7:43 am

Hi Matt

Love this post. I don’t like anything sweet in my tortillas. But the strawberry one sounds good. I will probably try that one. I like my tortillas with a burger made into pieces(Indian masala burgers from Trader Joes), Cilantro chutney, lettuce and pepper. It’s really yummy. You should try it if you can.

Kassi November 1, 2008 at 9:13 am

haha! This is funny, I’m not Latin but I grew up in Texas and have always had tortillas around. In fact, when we still lived in Texas, my boyfriend (who *is* latin) shuddered when i put peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla (not so great, pb and banana much better combo). He doesn’t get the tortilla thing, he says “i had to eat that shit growing up, i don’t want to eat it now.”

On the cornichon thing- slather some honey mustard on the tortilla, place some ham on top, then swiss cheese, then cornichons. Roll it up and yum.

Kassi November 1, 2008 at 9:16 am

right, so one more tortilla memory. My dad used to make HUGE batches of chili and freeze it. I would sneak into the freezer every morning and put a chunk of frozen chili on a tortilla with shredded cheese and microwave it together. In New York I hate going to eat breakfast at diners, they don’t have tortillas. Who can eat eggs without them???

toni November 1, 2008 at 11:09 am

Ooooh more experiments please!! This was amusing. :P And you write so well so can we expect more Tortilla medleys?! :) Pretty please with a cherry on top (of a tortilla)?

Muse in the Kitchen November 2, 2008 at 8:37 pm

As a mom of two girls that love tortillas I have to say I’ve found myself putting some very strange combinations inside a tortilla. Thanks for the new ideas. :)

Bhamdining November 4, 2008 at 8:00 am

Fun post! Even the ones that sound gross you made look beautiful. The pork belly combination sounds absolutely awesome and is making me hungry at 10 a.m.!

I’m not quite that adventurous, but I do love putting leftover Indian food into a tortilla.

I’ll also make quesadillas out of just about any combination of any kind of meltable cheese and dibs and dabs of stuff in the fridge (turkey, brie and tomato chutney; goat cheese and arugula). And I love scrambled eggs in a tortilla.

Liz November 4, 2008 at 2:23 pm

How come I never knew about you. This post is fabulous and I love your tone!

Becca Porter November 4, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Do you happen to have a recipe for chana masala. Your picture made crave it. Seriously.

Sylvia November 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Oh, I’m so disappointed that the caramel apple didn’t work – it looks wonderful!

I may not get to NYC more than once a decade but the Málaga market sells pork belly. I’m going to give that one a go.

Thredahlia November 9, 2008 at 5:14 am

How amusing AND tasty :D

cindylu November 11, 2008 at 2:24 pm

I'm so glad you said not to call any of these a wrap or a roll-up. That offends my Mexican sensibilities.

A_Sanzie December 22, 2008 at 9:43 am

My family constantly does this with the rotis rolled out by my mom. We fill them with pb&j or the “Elvis” combo, as well as rolling up fish or any other protein or Indian dish we have on hand. One of our favorites is Indian potato bhaji (aka sabji) with some homemade green (cilantro) chutney.
This article was a treat, and I love your writing style!!

Danny January 3, 2009 at 8:27 am

So it’s several dozens of days since anyone has posted on this topic, but I was intrigued by the tortilla idea….

Back in the days of being a poor college student, I used to put a little A-1 steak sauce in a tortilla with some freshly sliced tomato, alfalfa sprouts and, if I was rich that week, a little cheese.

It was a quick and yummy cold “sandwich” for a busy college boy!

rachel January 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm

this is so awesome… and i hadnt even thought about whether what i put in tortillas is wierd or not.
mostly its butter/margarine/some kind of spread and jam
butter/etc and tomato sauce
sour cream and cinnamon sugar
cheese and tomato sauce (sometimes with tuna and tomato sauce too)
any leftovers (stir frys, rogan josh, tofu etc)
sometimes odd things (rice and peanut butter..)
but mostly NUTELLA.

pretty much, tortillas in the house = dangerous.

dale February 9, 2009 at 1:13 pm

How about Korean BBQ inside a tortilla?

http://holamun2.com/candy/original/kogi-korean-taco-truck

Eric Hoffman February 20, 2009 at 7:28 am

That is great. I love the great quality of your photos and your sense of humor with which you approach the subjects.

Eric

fabio March 24, 2009 at 8:57 am

I should be revising some boring structural engineer’s drawings . . . But then I stumbled with this great post! Absolutely genius! Right to the heart of this Mexican!

Back to the drawings . . .

Christina June 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm

I think I love you. This post was fabulous to read; it made me tear up a little in spots.
Too bad I’m not eating carbs for another few weeks – but not forever! I may have to try some of these “recipes” once I’m free to have tortillas again!

mike September 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

I once had a theory that eggs went with everything. A chocolate chip omelet quickly disproved this theory.

Lynn January 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

Years ago when my kids were little and at Halloween. My husband would sneak into the kids candy and pull out the 3 Musketeers bars. He would wrap them in flour tortillas (like a burrito) and put it in the micro-wave for 15 seconds. I use to think he was crazy. I’m going to tell him there are Others out there!
hehehe

Natalie S. January 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

As beautiful as I think your photos are–and as intriguing as most of these combinations seem–your challenge brings me back to a dark time in my childhood. In middle school, I had Lunch Detention for some reason or another, and we were FORCED to eat whatever the Lunch Detention Lunch was (different from anything the cafeteria normally served). The day that I happened to get in trouble, I received my lunch bag and pulled out a carton of milk… a bag of Fritos… and a “wrap” that consisted of a tortilla with peanut butter, jelly, and Rice Krispies. I was horrified. Cruel and unusual punishment.

Eugenio April 29, 2011 at 1:45 am

I simply love Tortillas, you have provided me with new, creative ideas. Great work, love your cooking and your Photography is Great!

Kocinera July 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Wow! I never realized that you could put so many different flavor combos in a simple tortilla. They all look amazing, but the hot dog and sauerkraut one is really making my tummy rumble. It’s just about lunchtime for me, so I’m definitely going to take a peek and see what I’ve got around the kitchen to make one of these. Delish!

Megan July 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

I just love to read this post every time I feel like I need a laugh. But I just have a question for anyone who could answer it for me… what is the “Meg from Pasadena” reference? Is it just a label for Californians that is just flying over my head? (I laugh every time I read it; I promise whatever the reason is, I wouldn’t be one bit offended. It’s just sparking my curiosity because I’m called Meg, I’m a transplant from northern CA to southern CA, and…. don’t really eat pork….)

pam July 25, 2011 at 9:17 pm

bobby flay’s green onion slaw in a corn tortilla. OMG.

Maggie July 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

tortilla + grilled banana and pineapple = downright classy dessert If you add a drizzle of caramel sauce, you’ll be transported to levels of bliss you never thought possible.
tortilla + peanut butter and golden grahams = breakfast to go! (if you wanted to be healthy, you could add fruit)
tortilla + hummus = who needs pitas?
tortilla + jello = a jiggly disaster. Even with Cool Whip.

Jessica July 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

I love your quest to review the success rate of Anything inside of a tortilla, but for me it begs the question: this man who eats tortillas so often, which tortilla does he choose to wrap it all in? Have you got a favorite brand? Be it flour or corn, which grocery store variety rises above the rest when homemade is still a trip to Grandma’s away??

Anita August 31, 2011 at 11:40 am

Matt, you and my mom have a lot in common! As a Mexican-Jew, she grew up eating a lot of interesting and unexpected things rolled up inside of tortillas. Here’s a little story about one of the weirder things she experimented with, jello tacos: http://mexicanjewish.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/jello-tacos/

lori September 12, 2011 at 6:56 am

I too suffer from anything in a tortilla, so I’m here to dispute some of your fails. Before you can nix the more desserty types of dishes, try rolling and baking. Might change your mind….

Belle September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

I love tortillas. Sorry but the caramel apple one looks delish. I really think I’d love it. And the rocky road one… have to differ with you again. I might not put too much marshmallow…. I’m dreaming of whipped cream with the nuts and chocolate. Just so you don’t think I’m all about sweets… I love honey mustard chicken on tortillas, tuna salad is great, cheese and jam (ooops that’s sweet again isn’t it). The rest of the family was having pancakes… but I opted for pancake syrup, chocolate syrup and whipped cream and nuts on a tortilla!. I sat quietly and ate mine, smiling from the inside out.

Colleen September 26, 2011 at 12:15 am

To make a tortilla bowl, try slathering a tortilla with canola oil, draping it over an ovenproof bowl, and baking it at 350 degrees F until crisp and golden brown. Fill it with salad or dip.

Daniel C. October 11, 2011 at 10:18 am

Matt,

I came across this in an attempted Google search to prove my friend wrong that today’s lunch wasn’t “weird.” It consists of
- Whole Wheat tortilla wrap
- Peanut Butter (creamy)
- Jelly
- Rice Crispy cereal
- Raisins

Smear PB&J over wrap, sprinkle raisins and cereal evenly, then “roll” the wrap up. It’s wonderful! Only prepare one at a time because the cereal gets soggy fast and the crunch is the best part. Enjoy!

Margi May 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Butter and sugar. Favorite childhood snack after school. Hummus, sprouts and cucumber! (Now days, they call this a wrap, but I just call it yummy!)
The only selection that gave me pause in your experiment was the foie gras and little pickles.

neminem November 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Glad I’m not the only person who thinks like this – I googled “you can put anything in a tortilla”, curious what would come up, after realizing that this was my default behavior. If I have leftovers of basically anything that isn’t a dessert, my first thought is always to stick those leftovers in a tortilla and microwave it. I just ate a burrito consisting of: chili, cheese, rice, indian curry spice mix, and a fried egg. It was pretty tasty, and that’s when I decided to google that.

Anyway, this post was super amusing, though I’m surprised cornichon and pate didn’t work. I’ve never tried pate, but I’ve totally thrown standard sandwich stuff (including cornichon) in a tortilla and been happy with the result. Kinda surprised the apple thing didn’t work, too. Not surprised about the rocky road, though – tortillas will accept anything savory, and a decent number of sweet things, but definitely not everything. Marshmallows and tortilla definitely don’t sound like a winning combination.

(p.s. I’m super pasty white, and grew up Jewish. There’s nothing cultural about tortillas being awesome.)

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