Have you ever bought something at the grocery store just about every week because for some reason you thought it had to be so difficult and impossible to make at home. This is how I felt about tortillas. I cannot tell you how many tortillas, corn and flour; I have bought or eaten in my life. I have had whole wheat ones, tomato basil, spinach, and white flour ones. I had bought corn ones at the grocery store until a friend turned me on to the corn ones at the local Mexican grocery store.
What do I love about tortillas? What is there not to love? You can stir fry them and throw them in with some eggs, cheese, peppers and other fresh herbs to make migas. You can use them as a wrap to make a breakfast burrito, a sandwich wrap, burritos filled with whatever and let us not forget the amazing quesadilla. Should I continue? You can slice them up and fry or bake them for chips to eat with your favorite dip. They are so versatile and so good.
For the longest time I have wanted to learn how to make them. When I started looking at recipes, I was amazed that the basic corn tortilla requires two ingredients – masarina and hot water. That is it. The only other thing I was going to need was a tortilla press. I bought a cast iron one because I read they were the best, heaviest and lasted the longest.
So for our bi-monthly womyn’s gathering the other night, I made my first batch of corn tortillas. All I can say is not only were these so simple to make, but they were one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. You will never see me buying corn tortillas again. These were the moistest, most flavorful tortillas I have ever put in my mouth.
The most difficult part of making these tortillas was waiting to be able to make the little balls of dough that I would flatten out and heat on my tortilla pan. A few of my friends, who arrived earlier then the others, got to make a tortilla or two. As one of my friends said, the hardest part for her was getting the plastic wrap off the roll and on to the tortilla press. In less then 20 minutes, I had 16 steaming hot tortillas waiting for my friends to fill with my homemade vegetarian chorizo and refried black beans.
As we sat there filling our mouths with these warm, moist tortillas of love, it struck me how sometimes we postpone trying to do something because we think it will be far harder then it really is. Had I realized how easy it was to make tortillas, I would have begun making them years ago.
There was more to it though. All these years, I have been eating tortillas thinking I knew how good they were. Then I ate these homemade ones and it was as if I was eating them for the first time. They tasted nothing like what I had become accustomed to eating. It was as if with this simple act of faith in making these tortillas, I experienced this sense of enlightenment. They gave me this moment of clarity about life and the world that I did not have before.
So maybe it was not just the tortillas, but the zucchini and cilantro soup that I made to go with them that day. It was my first time to make a vegetable stock from scratch. I had read the darker the stock, the more flavorful it was. This was so true. The smell of the stock was filling the house even before I strained it and began adding the zucchini, cilantro, and other ingredients for the soup.
There is an experience which comes when you start from scratch. When you take these humble ingredients and then allow them to share their gifts of flavor with you as you shower them with love. I have often been told that zucchini are flavorless, especially when they are large. However, there was so much flavor in this soup, that it was almost addictive.
With the entire meal, it was as if nobody could get enough. It was as if as a community we tasted something special for the first time. We were not just sharing a meal; we were sharing an experience.
There was nothing I made this night that was difficult, even making the chorizo was easy. I just had to get creative. I took the spices one would add if one was making chorizo from pork and added it to my rehydrated TVP. Voila! All these years, I have been missing the flavor of chorizo, and now I have found a way for my friends and I to enjoy the flavors of chorizo without the pork.
As I was sitting back afterwards thinking about the meal, I came to realize that there have been quite a few things in my life I have procrastinated doing because I thought it was too hard or that I was not skilled enough. What I learned as I prepared for this month’s potluck was that when I step forward in faith, I can do all things. I also learned that like with so many other areas of my life, I had been settling for something far less then what was out there for me to experience with just a little effort.
I knew this about my relationship with God, however, what I learned in the kitchen this weekend allowed me to understand that there was so much more for me to experience in my relationship with God. It challenged me to think about how and when I lean on a store bought theology of God, and not on my own understanding and experience of God.
Who ever knew that some things could be so simple and so enlightening?