I am always fascinated by local cuisine and whilst I have known about quesadillas all my life, it was not until I came to Mexico that I really learned what this snack was all about.
I can remember heading out with my friend Rose Burillo and she was showing me various snacks to be found on the streets of Mexico. I heard her asking for a plain cheese quesadilla – quesadilla de queso, and I was instantly confused. It had been my understanding that quesadilla was called such because of the word queso… but this was not to be the case.
At the best guess, researchers believe that the origin of the word quesadilla came from an old Mayan language, and it was translated to a basket of filling. This then is why when you do ask for a quesadilla at a food stall, you will always have to specify whether or not you want cheese on it or not.
The quesadillas which we enjoy in the US could not be much more different from those that you find on the streets of Mexico, and the reality is that even within the country there are different variations of this. For example you can get blue corn or regular corn quesadillas, and the difference in taste is huge. Personally I prefer the blue corn but it is of course up to you. Another great option to have here, albeit a slightly fattier one, is to have your quesadilla deep fried so that the dough becomes crisp and crunchy, this is a great way to enjoy your snack, just make sure that you don’t do it all the time.
And so, given that we do not have the filings of cheese which we believe that goes with every quesadilla, what exactly do we have to choose from? The truth is that there is a wealth of flavors which you can pick depending on what you want to eat and each one is equally as delicious in my view. One of my all time favorites, and one which I would seriously recommend that you try during your time in Mexico, is huitlacoche. This is an odd filling and in fact it is something that most countries disperse of. There is a certain disease that corn can get and it turns the kernels, now instead of throwing this away, the Mexicans have worked out that it tastes great and has many health properties, and so they use it as part of their cuisine. Resourceful and very tasty indeed.
As you can see, the humble quesadilla is very different from what most people think that it is, and it is certainly very different from what you will find in the US when you get a thick, flour quesadilla. Down here in Mexico it is corn only, cheese has to be asked for separately and there is a wide range of fillings which you are gonna love.
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