Cooking and Food History and Latin America

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978-0-8263-5214-9

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Tortillas: A Cultural History


Paula E. Morton

“The ordinary tortilla was an extraordinary bond between the human and divine. . . . From birthdays to religious ceremonies, the people of Mesoamerica commemorated important events with tortillas. One Maya tribe even buried their dead with tortillas so that the dogs eaten as dinner during life would not bite the deceased in revenge.”—from Tortillas: A Cultural History

For centuries tortillas have remained a staple of the Mexican diet, but the rich significance of this unleavened flatbread stretches far beyond food. Today the tortilla crosses cultures and borders as part of an international network of people, customs, and culinary traditions.

In this entertaining and informative account Paula E. Morton surveys the history of the tortilla from its roots in ancient Mesoamerica to the cross-cultural global tortilla. Morton tells the story of tortillas and the people who make and eat them—from the Mexican woman rolling the mano over the metate to grind corn, to the enormous wheat tortillas made in northern Mexico, to twenty-first-century elaborations like the stuffed burrito. This study—the first to extensively present the tortilla’s history, symbolism, and impact—shows how the tortilla has changed our understanding of home cooking, industrialized food, healthy cuisine, and the people who live across borders.


ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS

Paula E. Morton is a journalist in St. Augustine, Florida. She is also the author of Tabloid Valley: Supermarket News and American Culture.

ACCLAIM

“To trace the history of maize tortillas from pre-Hispanic times to the present commercial varieties, Morton deftly sketches vignettes of tortilla makers past and present, alongside well-chosen maps and images.”

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Times Literary Supplement



“A highly readable, fascinating history of one of the world's most consumed staples.”

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Shelf Awareness



“The rich history of numerous cultures is revealed in this in-depth investigation into the tortilla.”

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Foreword Reviews



“A light, lively, and entertaining account of the cultural, economic, political, and spiritual significance of this versatile and now nearly ubiquitous flatbread from the times of the Mayas and Aztecs to the present.”

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Choice




5.5 x 8.5 in. 184 pages 37 halftones, 3 maps