MEXICO CITY – Consumption of the corn tortilla, the very symbol of Mexican cuisine, has dropped by some 40 percent over the past 30 years while losing flavor and texture, despite the varieties of Mexican corn that exist in the country, Rafael Mier, businessman and promoter of the corn tortilla, told EFE.
“In Mexico, right at the center of where corn originated, there’s not just one kind of tortilla, there are hundreds of tortilla varieties, as there are of Mexican masa harina corn flour,” said the promoter of Rescue Tortilla Consumption in Mexico.
Yet the tortilla is being abandoned because it’s being homogenized by industry with its whiteners, conditioners and artificial coloring, and by the authorities themselves “since they don’t keep a register of who is sowing which corn varieties.”
People assume there’s only “white and yellow corn,” which leads to a deterioration of the national gastronomy.
For example, the traditional soup known as pozole in the capital is made with cacahuacintle corn, in Guerrero with ancho corn, and in Nayarit with jala corn.
In Jalisco, people consume corn that is highly modified “for mass production,” while other states like Oaxaca and Sinaloa no longer use local corn, Mier said.
Mexican dishes like enchiladas, tacos, chilaquiles and tostadas have the tortilla as their “invisible ingredient” that goes unnoticed “as to its image, quality and flavor.”
Mier said it’s important to deal with “the loss” it is having, “both in terms of consumption and quality,” as well as what the “culture” is losing, considering the “excessive” amount of fast foods being consumed both in urban and rural areas.
He called on people to promote the use of Mexican corn varieties and flavors in nixtamalization (soaking and cooking the corn in an alkaline solution), since these types of corn “have been enjoyed for more than 2,000 years as tortillas.”
“For the first time we’re in danger of losing them,” Mier said.