Charlie O’Malley writes about the local passion for tortitas.
Mendocinos are an unflappable bunch. Their cool demeanour matches the ice-capped mountains they live below. They even enthuse about their wine in measured tones and rarely get too excited about anything.
That is except when you bring up the subject of tortitas, a type of hotcake that is unique to the province. Mention this much-favored breakfast item and the conversation suddenly becomes very animated with everybody wishing to give an opinion on their favorite type and where to buy it.
The most desired seems to be the flat raspado, which is surprising as it seems to have all the consistency of a hockey puck. Much more delicate is the de hoja, a layered square of buttered dough. Then you have the pinchado – literally punctured with multiple holes and of course the chicarone which is laced with tiny lumps of animal fat.
Tortitas are made and sold everywhere – bakeries, corner stores, schools and roadside stalls. In the early morning an army of bicycle vendors set forth with towers of tortitas circling the city streets and dispensing hot coffee.
It stops the work of policemen, postmen, bus drivers and shop assistants. One curious fact is nobody makes it in the home. Which is surpising as it is a simple concoction of flour, butter, salt and yeast.
Legend has it that it was first made from the leftover dough of empanadas and soon became a staple diet. It is much loved with mate and enjoyed with friends and family over breakfast or merienda (afternoon tea). It is a symbol of Mendocino culture and should be added to the province’s coat of arms. Talk to any local that lives abroad and it is the exile’s number one lament.
You just cannot get tortitas in Madrid.
What Tortita are You?
At 5 pesos a pop, tortitas are the best quality snack in town. They are also a very cheap way to discern what sort of person you are.
Hardworking,dependable and downto- earth. Very reliable but somewhat dull.
Rough diamond. Tough exterior but sensitive type with hidden talents. Secretive.
Flaky and impulsive. You have a bright personality but are hard to pin down, Duplicitous.
Fully rounded, sensible and capable with a thim skin and inflated opinion of one self. Somewhat arrogant.