Anything Inside A Tortilla

by Matt on October 13, 2008


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.”
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 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 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 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 & 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
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.


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
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
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
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 & 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.