I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but… last year, as a hostess gift, my dear friend Julia gave me a Mexican tortilla press and a monster bag of masa flour. I was genuinely delighted. But I never used it. The press lurked deep in a drawer of seldom used cooking kit, while the masa glowered down at me from a high shelf every time I opened the cupboard.
If you knew how much I love Mexican food, this may come as a surprise. My Diana Kennedy books are well thumbed and sauce spattered. I love the moles of Oaxaca, the seafood of Jalisco, the tacos, the tamales, the nopales – bring it all on.
But still, I never made my own corn tortillas.
This despite Julia’s insistence that it really isn’t hard.
This despite my bringing suitcases of them back from California to shove in the freezer and making stupid detours to buy Cool Chile ones either directly or from Whole Foods when the frozen ones ran out.
That is, until an avocado turned up in my first veg box order of lockdown (from Nature’s Choice, if you’re wondering), and I looked at Fred and said, “Fuck it, we’re having chips and guac.”
Which meant I had to make the tortillas to make the tortilla chips, and out came the masa and the press.
And you know what? Julia’s right. It really isn’t hard. The recipe’s on the damned packet. Just make sure you leave the tortillas to go cold before you cut them into chips to fry them, and you’ll have the best damned tortilla chips you’ve ever had!
PS — The Cool Chile Company are still shipping all kinds of Mexican ingredients around the country. Just bear in mind that, even though they’re working their calzas off to make everyone happy, deliveries are slower than normal.