Corn Tortillas: Mexican and Central American Diet Essay

873 Words 4 Pages
Corn tortillas are a very important component of the Mexican and Central American diet. They date back several thousands of years. However, there is no clear record of their origin. According to the Mayan creation legend, when the gods decided to create man they tried using different materials but the only material that worked was corn. Quetzalcoatl descended to Mictlán, the place of the dead. From there, he took some bones and went to the goddess, Coatlicue. The goddess grinded the bones together with corn, creating the dough that Quetzalcoatl turned into humans, thus Mayan men are “men of corn”. As the story demonstrates, there is a strong emphasis on corn and its by-products in this region. Ultimately, tortillas partake in several …show more content…
Furthermore, corn is the only grain relatively low in niacin, which is why it must go through the process of nixtamalization in order to increase the bioavailability of niacin during maize flour production. Although niacin deficiency is now rare, it was a significant problem in the 16th century. Even though pre-Columbian Central American civilizations knew to treat corn with lime solution this information was not relayed to the Old World and to new settlers in the New World drastically perpetuating the cases of pellagra. Today, there are two common methods of making corn tortillas: cooking the corn in a lime-based solution or by using a nixtamalized corn flour. In a study comparing the commercial nixtamalized flour MASECA to nixtamalized and extruded quality protein maize flour (QPM), showed that nixalated and extruded QPM was significantly higher in protein content, available lysine, and had lower starch content. Therefore, the further use of QPM for tortilla preparation may have a positive effect on the nutritional status of people from countries where these products are widely consumed.
It is not surprising that corn tortillas play such a significant role in these regions. Maize is known to be one of the most cultivated crops in this region. Maize was domesticated by Pre-Columbian Central American civilizations approximately 10, 00 years ago. It has been a primary source of food for the region through out time. Today, maize is widely domesticated in different

Related Documents