Q.: When do you use a flour tortilla and when do you use a corn one?
— Judy Hollenack, Akron
A.: There are some who would argue that only corn tortillas are authentic for any Mexican cuisine. However, on matters of authentic Mexican cooking, I like to defer to chef Roberto Santibanez, a native of Mexico City, who is one of the best sources today on the cooking of his native country.
He addresses the issue in his book, Truly Mexican, noting that flour tortillas are indeed part of native Mexican cooking, particularly in northern Mexico.
Santibanez points out that corn tortillas are the most common, and therefore are used most often in all recipes, but either could be used. (Most cooks would argue that enchiladas require corn tortillas, never flour.)
When you’re shopping at a traditional grocery store, flour tortillas will be found in the aisle with taco seasoning and sauces. The corn tortillas that you find there, for the most part, already have been deep fried, like taco shells.
In the dairy aisle, typically you will find fresh corn tortillas under refrigeration. These need to be heated before use. In his book, Santibanez recommends heating each for at least 45 seconds per side in a skillet over medium-high heat, so that they are soft and pliable enough to use for tacos and other dishes without cracking.
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