A short history of maize in Mexico

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2010

The manner in which tortillas and other bread are made in Mexico has had far-reaching societal effects.

Of course, there are trade-offs. Bimbo is not as good as a bolillo. A machine-made tortilla is not anything like a homemade tortilla — it's not even in the same universe.

Mexican women that I have talked to are very explicit about this trade-off. They know it doesn't taste as good; they don't care. Because if they want to have time, if they want to work, if they want to send their kids to school, then taste is less important than having that bit of extra money, and moving into the middle class. They have very self-consciously made this decision. In the last ten years, the number of women working in Mexico has gone up from about thirty-three percent to nearly fifty percent. One reason for that-it's not the only reason, but it is a very important reason-is that we've had a revolution in the processing of maize for tortillas.