As Mexico City's 9 million residents sleep in the pre-dawn darkness, busy hands are already preparing the day's corn tortillas in the small kitchen of Molino El Pujol, a tortilla shop that is part of a famed chef's bid to help recover Mexico's iconic food.
As the old tortilla machine roars to life at 5 a.m., a steaming hot mass of lime-treated corn mash is loaded into one end, where it is divided into small portions, flattened and baked. Fresh tortillas come out the other end, letting customers taste a bit of Mexican history that chefs say is being eroded by modern production techniques and modern corns.
If the "Pujol" in the shop's name sounds familiar, it's because its creator is chef Enrique Olvera, whose Mexico City restaurant Pujol is rated among the world's best restaurants.
Why would the star of Mexico's culinary world open a simple tortilla shop, or tortilleria, which conjures up images here of working class homemakers lining up for their tortillas with cloths that save them a peso on paper wrapping?