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Apr 17, 2010 10:22 PM

Tortilla etiquette - you got to know when to fold

Reading some of the comments on this blog, I am wondering if there is tortilla etiquette?

I am wondering if there are standards in different places. Should you roll them or fold them?

I can only use American dinner rolls as an example where you are supposed to break off pieces and butther them ... never cut in half and butterr ... never chew on a whole role. People don't usually say anything, but the way you eat a dinner roll can mark you as a clod.

Is there something similar with tortillas? How do you eat yours?

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  1. I eat mine any way I want. Depends on what you are eating. If I fill it, I fold. Roll it to sop up the sauce.

    I didn't know there was a certain way you should eat a dinner roll???
    I cut it in half and butter. Makes it much nicer on the bread plate. That's the way
    I was taught by one of my elementry school teachers way way back when. Even the white bread slices when it was served instead of rolls.

    1 Reply
    1. re: flylice2x

      Yup, break rolls into bite-sized pieces and butter

      I learned this at 10 years old when a friend and her father took us out to a really nice restaurant and I cut my roll in half and buttered it. She gasped and informed me how to eat the roll. Her dad, who knew the rules of etiquette better than she did at age 10, didn't say anything, but his look said that you do not call attention to other people's social gaffs.

      While looking up roll etiquette, I gave searching tortilla etiquette and found a little practical advice ....

      "Whether filling tortillas to make quesadillas, enchiladas or flautas, or just rolling one around some of the food on your plate to make an impomptu taco, always put the food on the inside, or pancita - "belly" - of the taco. This is the thinner side, which puffs up when the tortilla is being baked on the comal. The thicker side is called the espalada, or "back." This bit of information is more than just "tortilla etiquette", but a very practical point, because if the thinner part of the tortilla ends up on the outside, it will be much more likely to fall apart."

    2. This may not be proper "etiquette," but everyone I know (of Mexican descent) either breaks off pieces of tortillas and uses them in place of silverware to pick up food or rolls them tightly and takes bites off of them between bites of whatever stew, etc. is being served. The latter is more common in the case of flour tortillas. Items are only rolled up inside if they are traditional "taco" ingredients, and sometimes not even then.
      I don't remember being surprised by how people used their tortillas in Guatemala, so it must have been in a similar manner. I will say, to the possible disbelief of Mexicans everywhere, that Guatemalan tortillas were far-and-away superior to Mexican tortillas. Every tortilla I had in Guatemala, whether in a home or a restaurant, was made from fresh nixtamal ground at the local molino. They were thicker, smaller, and heartier than Mexican tortillas.

      1 Reply
      1. re: maestra

        No arguing about Guatemalan tortillas being better. I've been taking stealth looks at tortilla use and it seems like you said, tear off a piece. Unfortunately today something was late at this one tortilla stand. These are cooked on a grill fueld by wood and the smell is amazing.

      2. Do they serve tortillas in establishments where this sort of etiquette matters? For example an expensive hotel in Guatemala City. Or a formal dinner at an ambassador's residence? I suspect that the roll and butter etiquette is more important in those situations than whether to roll, tear or fold your tortilla.

        Some years ago I heard a story about an American missionary who'd spent years in rural Guatemala. While dinning at a home in the States, he realized that he'd absent mindedly rolled up a piece of white bread.

        If the issue still haunts you, I'd suggest sitting near a family with lots of kids, and (politely) observe whether the children are being corrected about such things.

        1. If you want to be really slick and impress your Latino friends, take a corn tortilla in your hand, take the other hand and roll it over the tortilla and roll the tortilla into a tight roll. Impresses my Maine buddies to no end. Duh.