Like nearly every Mexican, I have been eating corn tortillas all my life. Or, at least as soon as I was able to chew on the crispy, slightly burned edges when I was a precocious 3 year-old. There is photo of me somewhere as an infant teething on a tortilla. I think all Mexicans must have such a photo or at least a memory of that primordial experience.
I have also been thinking and writing about tortillas for a long time. Back in the 1980s-90s, when I was a professor at Colorado College (CC), I spent a good part of a decade teaching in the College’s “Mexico Program” based at the time in Guanajuato, Mexico. Between 1986 and 1996, I taught several times in the Mexico Program. During those many month-plus visits I witnessed first-hand the transformation of Mexico’s tortilla during the neoliberal prelude and then the aftermath of NAFTA.
Witnessing the industrialization of the tortilla was more than an alarming ethnographic observation. My feelings emerged from how these changes hit me straight on the taste buds. It was a sort of colonial tongue lashing. It felt like my cultural identity had been violated and my taste buds were objecting; strongly; viscerally.