How to Make Tortillas: A Photo Diary

The corn is sowed by hand into oxen-ploughed furrows and watered by winter rains.  Mature after several months, the corn is wrapped in its husk and left to dry on the stalk.

Each mazorca is collected and hauled back to the house on horseback to be husked.  Abuelito Prospero pops the kernels off into a large gourd bowl.

The kernels are cooked with ashes and water for an hour.  This process, called nixtamalization, softens the kernels, improves their flavor, and increases their nutritional value.

After they’ve cooled, Ana washes the kernels in several changes of water and leaves them in fresh water to soak overnight.

The next morning, the kernels are milled twice—once to “break” them, then to make the masa smoother.  Julio works the hand mill in the kitchen.

Dora shapes the masa into thick tortillas and fires them on the comal.

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