Tag Archives: tortilleria

El Tortillero

Before we went on our trip to visit my family, my sister-in-law T. asked if my son would help her out on weekends at her tortilleria. Saturdays and Sundays, she averages 8 buckets of masa (dough) each day. Some days, her pistoleras, the ladies who crank those hand-pressed tortillas out, arrive late or not at all. (The word pistoleras literally women wielding pistols or in this case prensas–tortilla presses.) Their tardiness or absence puts T into a bind since she has to fire up a comal and make tortillas herself instead of packing them up and receiving the money.  Because this has been happening regularly, my son said he’d be the money handler.

Since we’ve returned from our trip, he is now working 6 days a week at the tortilleria with T. Weekdays, he works 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the lunch rush with Thursdays off. On the weekends, he’s there from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. or so. 

He seems to be enjoying working with his aunt, and she with him, it appears. She has some pan dulce y leche (sweet bread and milk) ready for him every morning. He’s adjusted his schedule so that he is up early for some computer fun before heading to work, then naps in the afternoon. Plus, there’s a little trickle of income for his own use that sweetens the deal and a kilo of tortillas, a container of salsa and some beans every day for dinner.

I enjoy hearing about his day. Customer service always provides some interesting anecdotes. Plus the pistoleras themselves chatter away as they pat and flatten and flip the tortillas.

The other day, my son came home with another one of those strange health beliefs that abound here. This one was that you can’t drink coke and atole (corn drink) together because one is black and one is white. The colors apparently clash in your stomach and make you ill.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who would want to drink coke and atole together. It sounds like a horrible combination and sure to upset your stomach no matter what color the mixture happens to be. I actually think this belief has more to do with the hot/cold indigenous categorizations. You wouldn’t ingest something cold and hot together. This is why water is often offered al tiempo (room-temperature) with meals or on hot days.

My son also brings us the goings-on from Moroleon. The tortilleria is the hub of gossip mongers. We learned about the sudden death of our neighbor, el plomero (the plumber) from my son. The guy had gotten into a fight, sustained injuries and didn’t go to the doctor. It seems there was some internal bleeding and he died as a result.

Not all the stories are so tragic. One day my son was dispatching the tortillas and a girl about his own age paid him too much money. Before he could give her change, she ran off flustered. All the pistoleras hooted at that! Remember, my good-looking son is a Lady Killer! Later the girl’s mom came back and picked up the change with the young lady in tow, red as a tomato.

It sounds like my son has just pulled up to the house with his bike. Time for me to find out what the latest news from town!

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Filed under Employment, Small Business in Mexico


jesustortillasDid you know that you have options when buying tortillas?  Of course, you’ll want to buy them from a tortilleria rather than from the cooler in the aisle at Bodega because they just taste better. But, a true tortillas connoisseur is even more selective when it comes to the staple food product of Mexico.


Tortillas de prensa are hand pressed tortillas. As you can see on the sign above, this establishment also sells taco tortillas which are smaller than regular tortillas, large huarache tortillas, sopes which are smaller, fatter tortillas with a lip to keep food on top, gorditas, which are smaller, fatter tortillas meant to be sliced open and stuffed, and tostadas (toasted tortillas).  Ladies who run tortillerias de prensa are also your best bet to order corundas (triangle shaped tamales) and tamales in large batches.


My sister-in-law makes tortillas de prensa. Actually two of my sister-in-laws make tortillas, but one makes much better tortillas than the other. My husband’s aunts also make tortillas. They have one of their children delivery tortillas to homes all around town by bike.  I’ve seen tortillas motorcycle delivery in small towns as well.


If you don’t have a tortilleria in your immediate area, look for a table and scale set out in front of a house.  Tortillas de prensa are sold there!

IMG_20180412_094619_4CS.jpgThis tortilleria de prensa also offers totopos which are fried tortillas chips.



This is a tortilleria that provides tortillas that come out on conveyor belts. You’ll know if you hear a constant squeaking sound from within. More often, men are in charge of these tortillerias. If you look to the left in the back you can just see a milling machine.  Most of the ladies who make tortillas de prensa bring their nixtamal (corn and lime mixture) here in the wee hours of the morning to have it ground. These would be the ladies you see with two or three paint buckets on a handcart.  Each tortilleria has a slightly different way to make tortillas and you may have to try a few in order to see which place you like the best.


This tortilleria has specialty tortillas, de harina (flour), integral (wheat), de nopal (cactus), de chipotle, and tortillas for buñuelos which are huge and served fried with honey.  Tortillas here will cost more than regular old tortillas de maiz.

IMG_20180416_120511In our area, the current price for tortillas de prensa is 16 pesos per kilo. Tortillas from the conveyor belt stores are 14 pesos per kilo. Flour tortillas are 22 pesos per kilo. Some tortillerias will knock a peso or so off the price if you bring your own napkin to wrap them in.  Others won’t. You can buy a certain amount rather than kilo, say 10 pesos worth. Considering when we moved here, a kilo of tortillas was 6 pesos, every little bit of savings helps.

Where do you get your tortillas? How much do they cost?



Filed under Small Business in Mexico