Tortillas on the Clothes Line by Jackie Villarreal Nájera

In my home, there was Dolores, Gloria and myself that had to take turns cooking and making flour tortillas every day.  Dolores and Gloria were very good and fast at making tortillas. I was good at cooking. My sister Linda hated to be in the kitchen so her job was cleaning the house. Our house was never dirty but Linda did the sprucing up.

At first when it was my turn make tortillas they did not always come out perfectly round.  Sometimes Grandma, Ama Abuelita, said they looked like the state of Texas.  One day she came home and saw my tortillas not so round. She said “I am going to hang them up on the clothes line so every young man can see them. No one will want to marry a girl that can’t make round tortillas.”

“Grandma I’m going to marry a man who hates tortillas.” I answered.

“Good luck in finding one.” She said.

 I continued to practice but they were never perfectly round. I hated making tortillas. For one thing, the weather in Southeast Texas during the spring and summer was very hot. Being over a hot grill was not my favorite thing. Since grandmother and Tia Vica (Virginia) liked my cooking, I decided to concentrate on that.

I would try to beat everyone home from school and start dinner. Gloria protested one day and said. “It was your turn to make tortillas.”  I had already made dinner.

The system we had was  you cook every other day, and then make the tortillas. When it came my turn to make them, I made a deal with Gloria. I told her that I would make the dough and she would roll the tortillas.  She was so fast at making them that I was amazed.  I felt I had tricked her too easily by offering to make the dough. This went on for a while because the adults preferred my cooking.

Then one day I was caught. I think it was the discipline of making tortillas that was important to Ama Abuelita. In the old days, we were allowed one or two tortillas a meal. Two tortillas were glutinous and then we had to eat with a fork after that.

It’s funny that I married a man who loves tortillas.  Amabuilta was right! She should have hung my tortillas on the clothesline and maybe I could have married a man who hated tortillas. Although these days my husband doesn’t expect me to make them. He is happy just to buy them.

These days we have flour tortillas in packages. They are perfectly round.  I love it!




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