When we started this company, we did it because we wanted to provide a better alternative to the current status quo of tortilla shops, improve technology, help business owners with the current production problems, and ultimately redefine the baseline of what a good tortilla is. Our company is a work in progress, and we know we will get there.
Today some of our team members want to share why Minerva Robotics hits home for us and is a constant reminder of why we need to push ourselves to create something unique.
During my childhood, I spent most of my weekends at my grandma’s house. I loved to go there because Abuelita Bertha didn’t have many rules: she would let me sit around for hours in front of the tv set, eat in bed, and relax without any plan. She would regularly go on Saturday mornings to the local market (mercado) and do her weekly shopping. I would tag along to carry the bags, and the final stop before getting back home was hitting the local tortillería (tortilla shop) and buying $5 pesos of tortillas (about half a pound of tortillas). To this day, the first thing that comes to my mind when I smell a fresh nixtamal tortilla is when I would pay the tortilla shop owner the $5 pesos, and in return, I would have hot tortillas. Immediately after, I would open up the wrapped tortillas, take one, put some salt, and eat it while smiling back to my grandma. Soon another kid may eat a Minerva, and that day will turn into a reminder of home, carefree times, and happy memories.
When I was a kid, my grandparents would take me to the mercado on the weekend to buy chicharron (pork scratchings), tortillas, and gorditas (deep fried masa filled with beans or pork). On the line for tortillas, the shop owner used to hand me a little ball of masa to feed the birds while we waited. Even though it wasn’t cooked yet, masa smelled awesome.
When we got home, it was my mission to separate the tortillas before they cooled, otherwise, tortillas stick to each other and break when you try to pull them apart. I remember the soft and a bit sticky feeling. My grandpa would get some homemade salsa verde, and give my cousins and me, one salsa taco each before lunch. Happy memories.
One of the first memories I have with tortillas is, of course, with my family. This is my history of the Tortilla roll competition.
I grew up in Mexico City, where tortillas are a daily base food, especially for the Comida on weekends (comida= food, or lunch. Comida also refers to family social gatherings, usually on Sundays). When we used to have ‘dinner’ at my grandparents, I always sat on the same table with my cousins and big brothers. We played a lot of silly games when we were eating.
Abuelita’s food is always the best meal ever. It is served in vast and delicious portions; I also remember her Mole con Pollo recipe (chicken with a traditional Mexican sauce). She only cooked this meal for special occasions, like a birthday celebration, when all the family sat together. That was the first time I noticed, when you’re eating Mole con Pollo, most people transform Tortillas into breadsticks, corn-breadsticks, dip them into the Mole (the sauce) and taste it, then you could get a bite of chicken.
“Abuelita’s food is always the best meal ever.”
When I was 8, I realized that tortillas have many transmutations, like the corn breadsticks. That’s funny because, at that time, I didn’t care about why Tortillas possess the right consistency or elasticity so you can make a perfect-tight Rollito or little roll out of them. My cousins and I always competed for the super-tight tortilla roll contest. It is simple, you take a fresh Tortilla and put it across one hand, using the other, slide it fast from bottom to top against the Tortilla, then rolling it up from inside until the corn-stick stays gentle and firm, that’s it, that was my champion technique. The person who makes the tightest tortilla roll wins.
I particularly remember one of those matches I lost because of my grandpa. He, like many people, had a remarkably unique taste for Tortillas. He didn’t like fresh ones, ‘they are raw’, He always complained. For him, a perfect Tortilla was a crunchy well-cooked Tortilla, so before he ate them, he usually pre-heated them for a couple of minutes to get an extra toastiness.
With that in mind, when I was 9, I was at the Tortilla Roll finals against my cousin Gustavo, quickly I took one of my grandpa’s extra toasty tortillas, big mistake, and I tried hard to create a nice tight tortilla-roll. I couldn’t believe it, my Tortilla roll broke in many pieces, and I lost badly. We laughed a lot.
Until today I’m not sure if they set me up. I know that corn tortillas and their magical variations have attached to my family memories, like my retirement of tortilla roll competitions.
I was raised in El Pueblito de Allende, Chihuahua, with my grandparents until I was about 12 years old. I would wake up before sunrise with my grandfather to feed our animals and get out equipment to work on the farm. I always remember eagerly waiting for 7:30 am to go pick up fresh tortillas from Raul’s tortilleria. You don’t have to know where the shop is, you can simply listen for the classical squeal and shriek from the legacy machines or smell from a few blocks away. Raul would always hand me a hot tortilla right out of the machine to enjoy with a little salt or even salsa or queso fresco that they had available from time to time. Tortillas were one of the most important if not the most critical part of our diet and for Mexicans in general.
Living in small towns like this far away from significant cites makes you enjoy these little things more than usual. This is why Tortillas have always been of great importance to me.
I don’t usually buy or consume tortillas in the US. I typically take my trips to Cd. Juarez across the border from El Paso, TX, to purchase good tasty tortillas.
Do you have a story about tortillas? We want to hear it.