Monday, March 09, 2009

The Tortilla Factory (in the Yucatan)

I've been busy since getting back, so I decided to do mostly a picture post of a "neighborhood visit" in the Yucatan.

In the fashion of Mr. Roger's, let's visit the neighborhood in the village of Xocenpich. This is a Mayan village (hence, the name is in Mayan, not Spanish). Pich (pronounced peach, but not a peach tree) is the name of a tree in which they carve masks and other items. This is the typical sidestreet, just north of the bakery. Look at the concrete powerlines--impressive.

Our stop today is at the tortilla factory. It's a good thing I'd already eaten some of their tortillas before stopping here.

The corn for the tortillas is first cooked over a fire in this barrel. Obviously, there are no health inspectors here... I didn't know if I could eat another tortilla after seeing open buckets of shelled corn in the same area as pecking chickens.

I was impressed with the simple machinery, especially the oven circular oven that allows this place to turn out 1000s of tortillas.

For some reason, I forgot to take a picture of the combination grinder and mixer (where the dough is prepared). Here the dough is run through a machine that sheets out the dough and cuts out the tortillas.

The oven is kerosene fired. I did notice the night before a slight taste on the tortillas--and if I had my choice would prefer a wood fired oven. When I worked in the bakery, I had an oven operator who once told me about working in a bakery when he was young (in the 50s). He had a kerosene oven to blow up on him.

Here is a family, welcomed by the village dog, as they wait to buy their daily tortillas.

That ends our trip to the neighborhood bakery. And yes, I did eat more tortillas, but I wish I had made my visit to the tortilla factory on my last day in the Yucatan, instead of my second!


  1. Have you eaten Indian Rotis? We make those from wheat flour and roll them on the rolling pins. No machines used anywhere. We kind of bake those straight on fire. One gets used to doing that without burning our fingers. Although I did get burnt initially.

  2. One of these days I'll make you pancake... no, not the American pancake, but the British/ Asian pancake which is very similar to tortillas. But instead of corn we use flour. And I have my secret ingredient in it of course! :)

  3. I suppose that the tortilla's are edible seeing as there didn't appear to be people laying around in sever gastric distress. But the kero flavor, yea that would give me pause..

  4. I'm glad we didn't see that when we were in Cancun....LOL. I would have starved.

  5. Fresh tortillas are the best. BTW, in the Third World, it's better not to see where one's food is being prepared.


  6. Oh man. I'm not a big fan of corn tortillas anyway, but this would have definitely turned me off them for awhile I think :)

    Great photos.

  7. I guess eating tortillas is now like eating a hot dog... you know it's bad, but you just don't think about it or you will go hungry.

    You'll always remember the tortilla 'factory' when you eat one now. :)

  8. Spent a lot of time on ships and the "bug juice" (kool-aid) always tasted like kerosene because the water and fuel were often in the same tank! We take so much for granted...

  9. I love fresh tortillas - so good either plain or with just about any thing on them.

    My experience is that most of Mexico smells vaguely of propane/kerosene/gas.

    sage - I posted the recipe for the zucchini cakes on my blog.

  10. p.s. that is a very healthy dog for Mexico!

  11. The people look so Mayan--very little if any intermarriage until the youngest generation

    When I was a teenager in Mexico we weren't allowed to eat any food offered us

  12. Ha! I like your last line. I loved all the pics except that third one. Yikes!

    What an interesting visit. Thanks for sharing. I don't think I'll be craving tortillas any time soon though. ;)

  13. Gautami, I love Indian bread-do you use a "kettle oven" for the bread, where the dough bakes on the side with a fire in the middle?

    Mother Hen, I'll take you up on it--I have had pancakes in Korea--British pancakes, aren't they crepes?

    Walking Guy, the hot oven probably kills most germs and the tortillas are quickly stacked and placed in bags after coming out of the oven

    Kenju, they may have a clear place there, but then again...

    Randall, that's true!

    TC, I like flour ones the best

    Lisa, there are a lot of "good" things that are bad for us, lol

    Beau, wow, same tanks for water and fuel", whose Navy were you in?

    Diane, thanks for the recipe and you're right about the smell of fuew (that's why wood is superior!) That's one neat dog, maybe I should do a post on him too!

    Pia, I'll have to post photos of one village we went to and all the women came out with Mayan dresses on

    Scarlet, that third picture looks like they're making some mash for some hooch! I'll later have more to say about Cuban influence on thos part of Mexico

  14. Well for some reason, my sidebar didn't tell me you had a new post until two days after you posted one. Better late than never.

    I think not only is R. Sherman correct but that it applies even to restaurants in first world countries such as ourself.

  15. That was very Mister Rogersy. Except didn't he always eat a sample at the end. Or maybe that's just Rachel Ray.

    Also, did you mean concrete poles instead of concrete powerlines? :) If not, that must have really been a sight!

  16. Sage: I'll bet you are a gournet cook who rivals Emeril! Another GREAT adventure! :)

  17. Ed, I've also have had that problem on occssions--someone's post showing up about a day late

    Bone, you know copper was real expensive a year ago... :) yes, I meant poles. However, their concrete roofs are something I found interesting (they used concrete pre-fab beams and slide concrete blocks between the beams, held by the inch or so ridge--good thing they're not in earthquake country!

    Michael, thanks, but I'm just a southern boy who can cook down home meals.

  18. That's impressive and the kind of adventure I love falling in to. I love that you got their dog in that last shot.

  19. Monique said:
    I am taking a group to Mexico and was wondering where this place was exactly so that we could have a look!

  20. Monique--it is in the village of Xocenpich--about 10 miles east of Chichen Itza... There are places like this in a lot of the villages.