How to Make a Proper Mexican Quesadilla

I read your comments, people. I hear what you have to say about the writings of me, Edwin, Dave, Shuji, Michelle and Vickie. Some of you think we're "snooty," that we don't write about the food of the "people," that we write only about undeserving ethnic food no one ever bothers to try.

Keep thinking that! But fine: I'll give you something prole, something quotidian, something anyone can do and everyone can enjoy: how to make a proper Mexican quesadilla.


One or two tortillas, flour or corn


1. Preheat a comal or--since I'm assuming most of ustedes don't own a comal--a skillet or pan at full blast for about two minutes, then cut the heat in half. You want to make sure the comal/skillet/pan is evenly heated and not too hot.

2. Place tortillas on comal/skillet/pan. Make sure it's hot enough; if it's too cold, the tortilla will stick and probably disintegrate--and few things are harder than cleaning a comal/skillet/pan of tortilla masa. If you're going to make a double-sided quesadilla and the comal/skillet/pan is large enough to hold two tortillas, heat them both at the same time; if not, heat individually. Flip after 30 seconds. You don't need a spatula; just pinch the edge of a tortilla and give it a flip--you can do it, non-Mexican!

Flip again after 30 seconds. Flip after another after 30 seconds. Then flip again. Heat the tortilla until you can easily bend it with no loss of its structure; if you bend and it cracks, you haven't heated it long enough. If you bend and black shards fly off the tortilla, you heated it too long.

3. Place the heated tortilla on a counter. Slice cheese according to how much cheese you want.

4. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF QUESADILLA MAKING AFTER HEATING IT PROPERLY: Look at the tortilla. Find the side that has a lighter shade than the other. Not the side that's less cooked; the side that's lighter in color (you'll notice it). This is the side you'll place the cheese on. If you place the cheese on the darker side of the tortilla, a Mexican mother will tell you it's al revés--inside-out. She'll be right. I don't know the science behind it, but a quesadilla cooked with the tortilla the right way--with the cheese on the lighter part--cooks easier and prevents slippage. It makes no sense: like the world, IT JUST IS.

5. If you're making a double-sided quesadilla, place the other tortilla on top, with its lighter side on the cheese; if it's just a quesadilla sencilla, bend the tortilla in half, pushing on it a bit hard so it sticks to the cheese.

6. Place the quesadilla on the skillet/comal/pan for a minute. Flip until the cheese is melted, or until you've crisped it to taste.

Look, ma: a quesadilla!

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