Why Aren't Corn Tortillas as Big as Flour Tortillas?

DEAR MEXICAN: My most beloved niece married a boy of Mexican extraction. I am very fond of him, but he and his family kind of hold us all at arm's length. It's very difficult to get close and has made me back off. My niece has told me that his mother “doesn't like white people.” Wouldn't it be better to get to know me before deciding you don't like me? Isn't her attitude racist? I'll never forget walking into their wedding with big smiles because my niece was getting married and she is a major sweetheart. We were greeted with stony faces and no responses to our greetings; I felt as if it were West Side Story. Looking back, maybe I should have clicked my fingers and sang, “When You're a Jet.” Is there something I can do, or should I just continue to be courteous when we meet and try to find something to talk to them about? It is hell to hold a conversation with his family, and they always make me feel like I'm in the way. (Actually, his father is nice, and he makes great burritos.)

Wondering Whitey

DEAR GABACHA: Stop being so gabacha. Believe it or not, not all Mexicans like white people. Your nephew-in-law obviously does, and it seems his papi goes gaga for the gaba as well. But your niece's suegra? Not so much. I can offer advice: Take the woman out to a spa day, treat her to a nice lunch, smuggle over the last of her sisters from Puebla. But the sad reality is that Mexican moms keep pointless vendettas FOR LIFE. Whatever! You're upset about one pendeja making family reunions uncomfortable; I could detail which of my cousins don't talk to the other cousin over something said by uncles 45 years ago . . . but I still need to show my face at family quinceañeras, you know? Man, are our family funerals fun!

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DEAR MEXICAN: Can you enlighten me regarding something I am curious about? Why are flour tortillas available in 6-, 8-, 10- and 12-inch diameter sizes, but corn tortillas are available in only 6-inch diameter sizes?

Worth the Girth

DEAR GABACHA: Easy—flour tortillas can get bigger because of their gluten, of which corn tortillas have next-to-none. Corn tortillas generally have a maximum size before disintegrating like the U.S. border. The largest such tortillas I've ever seen didn't get bigger than 8 inches, but as I told the Charleston City Paper last year, tortilla sizes are like penis sizes: It's not the size of the ship, but the motion of the masa that matters. Or to paraphrase another penis aphorism: Once you go maize, you'll always sing its praise. . . . Or better yet: Once you learn to like corn, it'll always be your porn. No?

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DEAR MEXICAN: While conversing with Mexican-American 'manitas, I came to a halt when trying to conjugate the verb pistear or pistiar. From whence does this term originate?

Slushed-Out Sista'

DEAR NEGRITA: This is a great way to show the world anew the baroque, vulgar wonders of Mexican Spanish. The Real Academia Española (RAE), the official guardian of Spanish in the world, doesn't acknowledge the Mexican Spanish definition for pistear—”to get smashed with pals”—but what do they know? The paisa slang ultimately derives from pisto, which is both an adjective (drunk) and noun (said drink that got the pisto person pedo). And pisto comes from the Latin pistus, “smashed.” Now it makes sense why Mexicans use pisto as a synonym for being borracho, ¿qué no? Meanwhile, all the RAE can offer as a definition for pistear is some Central American mamadas about making money . . . pinche mamones. And, yes, the RAE sure as hell doesn't offer the Mexican Spanish definition of what a mamón is, either.

3 Replies to “Why Aren't Corn Tortillas as Big as Flour Tortillas?”

  1. This is a comment about corn vs flour tortillas. Being Italian I grew up in an hispanic/italian neighborhood. I am use to eating corn tortillas. My friends mother made large corn tortillas. Like burrito size tortillas. So they can be made larger. So I call bs why they can not be made larger from seeing them being made and eating them.

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