I saw the Nixtamatic in the window at Casa Boker a few months ago, but I convinced myself that I didn’t need it. I didn’t operate a tortillería. I didn’t have a large family. Was I really going to make fresh corn tortillas every day, just for Crayton and I?
Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I Googled “Nixtamatic,” and saw that Steve Sando had one, and he’d created a video of him using it. It was mesmerizing, watching the machine’s metal plates squeak round and round, churning out squiggly bits of masa. He only had to add a bit of water to the dough, and boom. It was done.
Why was I hesitating here? Sure, corn tortillas were available on every corner in Mexico City, but if I ever left Mexico — heaven forbid — I’d be stuck with the carboard-tasting American versions. And I just had this yearning to make my own tortillas. With my corn that I purchased. Who cares if I didn’t make them every day. Even once a week would be fine. I could do that.
When Crayton asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I told him, “A Nixtamatic!”
(Well, first I said, “No, honey, seriously, you don’t have to get me anything.”)
So we went last weekend and picked it out together. It wasn’t cheap — about 3,100 pesos, or around $250 USD. I refrained from telling Crayton, “Yes, but this is an investment,” because he hates it when I use the word investment for something we’re buying. (Him: “It’s not an investment because it loses value the minute we buy it.”) The high price meant this was my birthday, anniversary and maybe Christmas present rolled into one.
But I really do plan to use it a lot. Tortillas, tlacoyos, gorditas, sopes — the masa-based possibilities are endless.
Hopefully I’ll have an “Aaagh! Homemade tortillas with the Nixtamatic!” post for you next week. The manual is three pages long and seems easy enough to understand. I’m crossing my fingers.
Who is Mija?
Mija is Lesley Téllez, a food writer and culinary guide in New York City. I spent four years in Mexico's Distrito Federal, which launched my deep love for Mexican food and culture. In 2010 I co-founded the tourism company Eat Mexico.
Be kind, ask permission!All photos on this site were taken by me, unless otherwise noted. If you'd like to use a photo, please email me.
Top Posts & Pages
- A gringa in Mexico City
- How to make homemade enchilada sauce in three easy steps
- How to make chiles rellenos, Mexican-grandmother style
- The glory of the Mexican breakfast
- How to season a molcajete, when you’re absolutely tired of grinding
- Five truths about tamales
- Red taquería-style salsa
- Tostilocos: The Mexico street food nacho, Frito-pie hybrid
- How to make your own butter
Get The Mija Chronicles in your inbox
Read my old posts