Tortilla Tuesdays: La Banderita

Let's take a moment for a reality check here. Orange County has, as we've demonstrated in this column, some truly outstanding tortillas. There are tortillas in every corner of the county that are made the traditional way and which taste right. The problem is that when it is 5:18 p.m. and your dinner guests are coming at 6, you are not going to stand in line at Flor de Mexicali or anywhere else. You are going to flee to your local Albertsons, Ralphs or Vons–yes, you are, don't lie.

The problem is that those places are almost completely taken with the flabby, weak, culturally dangerous mierda put out by the GRUMA corporation–see Gustavo's list of why they're disk-shaped evil on the aisle endcap. The GRUMA folks are smart; they produce both Mission and Guerrero brands, and they know that if they make it look like you have a choice, you'll end up picking one or the other of their major brands. So what do you do, if you don't want to support the Masecatraficantes, but you don't have a Mexican store handy?

You buy La Banderita. It's available in most gringo grocery stores, particularly in Latino neighborhoods, which is most of them west of the 405. It's a national chain, but it's one that started small.

Now, let's not pretend for one minute that Ole Foods is some little company struggling against the GRUMA masa cartel, their cute little story on the website about a street corner in Atlanta; they're a behemoth, a conglomerate, a corporation. They're not, however, actively evil the way GRUMA is, and they provide an alternative. They started off with flour tortillas, more popular elsewhere in the United States than here, and got into corn as they expanded.

The tortillas themselves are pretty standard, which is to say they have the correct masa taste, they don't fall apart under wet fillings in the time it takes to consume a taco without resorting to face-stuffing, and they are reasonably priced. They're made to sit out on shelves, though, which means that they may be days old by the time you buy them. If you let them get cold, they turn both hard and rubbery, which sounds like a contradiction in terms and caused me to try this four times. They're still better than GRUMA, and they're better than El Super.

What's the point? Well, you should be buying better tortillas than this, but when the chips are down and you're running to Albertsons, pick up La Banderita rather than Mission or Guerrero.

Grade: C.

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