Say What You Feel with Ceremonial Tortillas
By Jesús Aguado
Ceremonial tortillas are a characteristic of the rural communities established on the banks of the Laja River. Their colored stamps mean that there is a celebration. Currently, a group of tortilla makers is looking for a designation of origin for their product.
In the rural community of La Huerta lives Humildad Damian, a señora who made ceremonial tortillas on April 20, when I went to conduct an interview in her home. These tortillas can only be seen on special occasions.
Damián, who has a tortilla stand at the organic market organized by Vía Orgánica every first Sunday of the month in colonia Guadalupe, told Atención that she learned this art from her grandmother and also inherited her wood to stamp the tortillas. “With these ceremonial tortillas you can also express what you are feeling, or you can say what you cannot say with words. For example, when I make them for my children, I make them to express my love for them,” said Humildad.
Her kitchen has a ceiling made of reed. She had a molcajete with salsa, mole, guacamole, and frijoles—“everything organic”—for making tacos for this visit. Next to Humildad, on the other side of the fire, was her daughter-in-law, Jessenia, who was stamping the pieces with flowers, plants, and animals, as well as with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
On the little table in the kitchen, she proudly presented black corncobs and said that she had harvested them from the very beginning. She prepares the land, plants the corn, and watches over the plants. Later she harvests the grain, boils it, and takes it to the grinder to make this amazing product, the base of Mexican food.
There in her little kitchen, surrounded by metates and baskets that she makes with reeds, she demonstrated and explained to Atención how to prepare one of these tortillas. She takes the dough from a bucket and makes a small ball. Then she puts it in the tortilla press and within a plastic spatula, she flattens it. Next she takes the tortilla out of the plastic and puts it on the hot plate made of clay. She precooks the tortilla on both sides, and then Jessenia takes the tortilla out of the hot plate to put it on the base of wood to be stamped with natural colors of wild plants from the region.
A dozen ceremonial tortillas costs 20 pesos. Humildad Damián also makes tortillas for special events. Her phone number is 415 141 1849.