Tortas Mexicanas Are More Than a Mexican Hamburger – They Are a Way of Life
Credit: Nuestro Stories
If you are looking for a delicious, filling, and fast lunch, search no more. Why not have a torta mexicana? It is a sandwich to end all sandwiches stuffed with carne asada – or meat of your choosing – avocado, lettuce, marinated jalapenos, tomatoes, and cheese.
In Spanish, the word torta has many meanings, all related to food. The word derives from Latin, meaning round bread, cake, tasty pie, or Spanish flatbread or omelet.
The torta bread is freshly baked, puffed up, airy and soft. It is always freshly baked, coming hot out of the oven, and it can take the shape of a telera – a round French-style bun – or bolillo rolls – also known as pan frances, which is an iteration of the baguette.
Read more: Ay, Qué Rico: Ants Are a Culinary Delicacy for Some Latinos
The origins of tortas mexicanas
The story goes that Mexican bakers were inspired by the French when they created torta bread during the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860s.
They began filling the flat round bread with meats like carnitas and barbacoa and never looked back. Today, the meats in tortas are similar to the ones in tacos but also include chorizo with potatoes, breaded and fried cutlets, ham, and sausages.
There are cold and hot tortas – or Mexican hamburgers, as some call them – but this needs to be corrected! They might be round, but I assure you they are a step above a plain burger.
Cold tortas are made with a telera, while a hot torta can be on a telera or a bolillo. The toppings, including refried beans, mayonnaise, soft butter, and onions, can also vary. The cheese can be cotija, crumbled, or asadero, melted cheese.
Besides the vegetables mentioned above, some come with carrots. If you fancy salsa, it can be added on the side; just ask for hot or mild.
Eating a torta – whether it be telera or bolillo – can be a bit messy, but it is worth the pain. Just one bite will have you hooked.
In Mexico, tortas are sold in food stands or small restaurants known as torterías. In the United States, you can enjoy authentic tortas in taquerias, the many Mexican restaurants throughout big cities, or in food trucks.
I’ll leave you with the recipe for a Carne Asada Torta – simple and divine!
- 1 Recipe Carne Asada
How to Assemble the Torta
- 2 telera rolls
- 1 cup shredded iceberg
- 1 small avocado, mashed
- 1 vine-riped tomato, thinly sliced
- 1/8 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled cotija
- 12 slices pickled jalapenos
- 1/4 cup refried beans optional
- 4 dashes of hot sauce optional
Prepare the meat (with the attached recipe) and then cut it into sandwich pieces.
Paint the top and bottom of the telera bread with avocado and then assemble the meat, tomatoes, red onions, iceberg, cotija, pickled jalapenos, and hot sauce on the bottom bun. Softly place the top bun and dig in!
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Susanne Ramirez de Arellano is a writer and cultural critic who used to be a journalist, television producer, and news director. She lives between San Juan and New York and is, at present, making her first attempt at writing a novel.