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Making Sopes with Senora Candida

Written on: Monday April 7th, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

Huile has a cleaning lady that comes once a week to go over the house, her name is Candida and she lives with her family in Ocotitlan. I took the opportunity to practice my Spanish and started conversing with her, she later offered to come over and teach Rob and I how to make some traditional Mexican food, Sopes (pronounced so-pays). The ingredient list she gave me was simple: tomatoes, onions, jalapeņos, cheese, cream, garlic and cooked black beans. Candida showed up with a ball of corn-based dough to make the tortillas, although a few days later she came back over and showed us how to make the corn dough from scratch?or more accurately, from corn.

To make the tortilla dough, natural lime (the white stuff) is added to water and corn and is brought to a smiller,not a boil. The lime chemically reacts with the corn to dissolve the hard outer shell on the corn kernel. After about 20 minutes, the shell is gone and the soft corn is soaked overnight, and then ground in the morning. Water is added to get the right consistency. Next a small ball of dough is rolled in your hand and placed on a press, where it is squashed into a thin circular shape. With a very special flick of the wrist, the tortilla is swept onto the hot grill. I learnt the hard way that the wrist flick is important; otherwise the tortilla sticks to the grill. Candida was able to save my destroyed tortilla by chopping it up and mixing back into the dough ball. When the tortilla would start to rise she would flip it over and cook the other side. Next we removed them from the grill and had to make little edge ridges on the tortillas. Then we fried them some more with some oil, so that they would become a little crispy.

In the meantime, we also made some fresh salsa by frying up a whole tomato and several jalapeņos and then mashing it all together with a little salt. The salsa, black beans (cooked and mashed with a little garlic), and cheese were placed on the little ?tortilla plate? on the grill until the cheese melted. The piping hot Sopes are served with cream. Delicious and so simple. By the end, she even jokingly offered for me to come work with her in the market restaurant on Sunday. However, she pointed out that I would need to speed up a little.

Corn tortillas are a real staple for the Mexican diet. Most meals consist of meat or vegetables wrapped, pressed or placed on a soft, hard, fried, or other version of a corn tortilla. In a restaurant, fresh tortillas come along with every meal, even if there are tortillas in your meal, like as in quesadillas or enchiladas. My next task is to find a tortilla press and a hand grinder somewhere so that I can bring this delicious part of Mexican culture back home.


From Annette on Apr 28th, 2008

I can see where the future cuisine at your house is getting more interesting by the month! Can't wait for dinner invites!