I recently ate a terrible and indifferently prepared gordita at a San Francisco farmer's market that sparked a debate as to what constitutes an authentic gordita. Being neither Mexican nor someone with a lot of experience with Mexican food, I feel ill-prepared to judge this, so can someone give their thoughts on what an authentic gordita is? Does it have to be stuffed or can the meat (or whatever other stuffing) simply be piled on top? What should the taste and texture of the "bread" part be like?
More importantly, since I'm going to Mexico City soon, can someone tell me where to get a good gordita?
From my infrequent experiences with gorditas, they are a small, round cake of masa, cooked dry on a comal (occasionally fried, but that is less common), partially split open along the side, and filled with cooked pork, chicken or other preparations. To me, the taste of a true gordita should be of nixtamalized corn masa. The texture tends to be dense and somewhat chewy. The flat upper and lower sides should have brown spots from the griddling.
A few years ago, my wife had a good gordita at La Reyna de La Roma, on the street facing the Mercado Medellín, in Colonia Roma Sur, Mexico, D.F. http://tinyurl.com/ckr5fu But we haven't tried that place again after their closure and reopening.You might try a gordita de carnitas, a specialty of the Reyna. I loved the huarache I had there. http://tinyurl.com/clm4sm (December, 2005).
I don't doubt that you might find better ones if you explore.
By the way, some of the best quesadillas we've had anywhere are found at a daytime stand at the corner of Calle Manzanillo and Calle Tlaxcala, Colonia Roma, not too far from the above mercado, and a block or two east of Avenida Insurgentes. This is a fun area to explore, and the Mercado Medellín has some interesting foods, both raw and prepared.
I know many Mexican women who make gorditas (the word means 'little fatties', by the way) and each señora has her own way. Some women do make thick corn tortillas (from 1/4 to 1/2" thick) and then split and stuff them with any of several fillings: frijolitos refritos, carne deshebrada, pollo deshebrado (deshebrado means shredded), carnitas, champiñones (mushrooms), papas (potato), queso (cheese), or combinations of those and other ingredients. Some women incorporate the fillings into the masa (dough) before cooking the gordita.
Some women cook their gorditas on a comal (griddle), while others deep-fry them. Some use a combination of those two methods, grilling gorditas on a comal and then letting them deep-fry for a few minutes to give them that heavenly crunch on the outside and that smooth corn-dough flavor on the inside.
However they're filled and cooked, when you have one on your plate just pinch it open a bit, add a big drizzle of salsa verde or roja, more than a pinch of finely sliced cabbage, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and minced onion, a squeeze of limón, and a sprinkle of salt. It's sheer heaven.
And no, in 30 years in Mexico I've never seen a gordita with the 'filling' piled on top.
Ditto to those above... and in addition just note... Gorditas are primarily traditional to Aguascalientes, Zacatecas and Jalisco... Mexico City does NOT have a strong Gorditas culture. With that said... every population center in Mexico has SOMETHING like a Gordita in abstract terms... in Mexico City its primarily the Huarache & Garnachas... and on the Western part of town its the Tlacoyos. The fillings do change as their birthplace ecology mandate what goes in them... Huaraches commonly get seasonal produce like Huitlacoche, Romeritos, Squash Blossoms and meats are used merely as an accent etc., whearas the Gorditas tend to be native to more Arid parts of the country.... and tend to be Meat, Beans, Stinky Cheese or Nopales centric....
EN, here in Michoacán we have the gordita de frijolitos. Frijoles de la olla are stone-ground on the metate. Then blue corn masa is wrapped around a ball of the ground frijolitos. The ball is flattened into a disc and then fried on the comal. You can see a photo from Mexico Cooks! last December:
Gorditas Doña Julia is a local institution in Zacatecas--and the gorditas at her several locations are very different from others I've eaten elsewhere in Mexico. Zacatecas-style gorditas are made with white flour, are quite thin compared to corn-masa gorditas, and, after they're cooked on the comal, they're split and filled with the guisado you choose from what's available that day at Doña Julia's. I once watched a man eat NINE of these gorditas, all at one sitting. I've eaten as many as four at one meal...read more about all this at the link I posted on the Durango/Zacatecas thread.
I must disagree with the person saying tlacoyos is a variation of gorditas... they are actually a different size , shape and are put in the comal already witha filling of frijol, garbanzo, or a differnet kind of bean... usually with queso fresco , cilantro and salsa on top.
Gorditas are usualy more in Northern Mexico, usually made of corn masa. But in Torreon, state of Coahuila you will find some that are made with wheat "flour" masa.
From my father's home town Ciudad Victoria,state capital of Tamaulipas comes the most famous gordita name "Doña Tota" who was famous for many years and would even serve personalities such as the President himself when they came to town. She passed away, and who ever kept the one restaurant and owned the name, decided to go Franchise! Surprisingly enough, and I guess because gorditas are so easy to make (masa, comal, and good stuffings) You will find several succesful "Doña Tota's" scattered all around Mexico.
A variation on a usual , regular gordita: Bocoles served in Northern Veracruz state & Tamaulipas . Smaller, they use some rendered beef and pork fat , to make them fluffy and the stuffings might be slightly different too.
I never really knew where "Gorditas" came from, but my real first experience with them was awesome.
I used to live near the Villa Coapa area (near Xochimilco, southern part of Mexico City) and a friend of mine took me to that Gorditas stand that I'll never forget. It's on Escuela Naval Avenue and Miramontes, just outside the Walmart parking lot. These gorditas are really fatty and small. The woman that cooks them fries them with no exception. She fills them up with chicharron prensado, requeson or black beans. And then she deep fries them. They end up being crunchy and well cooked. She opens them and adds cilantro, onion and sauce. If you fancy, she'll add sour cream. Oh my, they were the best!!!
I don't know if she's still there...
Later, I started paying attention on how gorditas were made. The usual kind I found in Tianguis all over Mexico City were filled with Chicharron prensando, and cooked with oil.
Then I was aquatinted with another kind of gorditas, the ones made in the northern states of Mexico. I guess every region has it's own kind, as usual. And they were good!
I had just finished a tour to Grutas de Garcia and again, next to the parking lot there was a food stand selling corn and tacos and of course GORDITAS!!! They are of the thin kind, pre cooked and later stuffed with meat, nopales and other good stuff.
They are the kind of gorditas more "a la Doña Tota", that Mambooster is telling us about. And Doña Tota is good! really good! They have restaurants all over the "Noreste" region and I've already seen a branch in Mexico City. They have all sorts of fillings, like mushrooms, nopales, deshebrada, chicharron, cheese, cochinita pibil and more...
Year ago I had one amazing deep-fried gordita de chicharron after another, with sliced jalapenos added, at one of the stalls in the vast butcher area of Mercado la Lagunilla in Mex City. Damn, they were good.