Thursday, September 12, 2013

Eating "nachos" in Bangalore

Wikipedia defines Nachos as "a popular food based on nixtamalized corn, of Mexican origin". I've had nachos before, in India as well as outside it. The one thing common to all my experiences was corn. No matter where I ate, nachos always meant corn (chips). Then came California Burrito (specifically the one in Koramangala, Bangalore). I had lunch there today and made the mistake of ordering nachos. They served "nachos" made of maida! For those not in the know, maida is "is a finely milled and refined and bleached wheat flour". If you have ever had samosas, you probably have tasted maida. Samosa shells are most commonly made of maida.

The "nachos" were unappetizing to say the least. Imagine eating samosa shells with guacamole and sour cream! Someone (not me) asked about the maida and was told that everything they served had been "adapted for India". What rubbish! If you must "Indianize" (it still makes no sense to me), then at least show the courtesy of announcing it on your menu.

I am told that the story is the same for their burritos and tacos. Everything tastes like Indian rotis/chapatis because of the wheat. Now I'm fine with people customizing their food but I expect to be told upfront if the food being served has been customized. I took 'California Burrito' and 'nachos' at face value and did not get what I paid for. I won't be visiting them again. Taco Bell is not far away and looks like a much better choice.


Anonymous said...

I am Mexican and burrito and taco shells are always made of wheat so you should do a little research before you attack something, it makes you sound very ignorant

Manoj Govindan said...

@Anonymous: I based my observation on my experience and several publicly available definitions. All of these point to corn rather than wheat.

Second, whenever I had nachos in southern US (never been to Mexico, sorry) as well as elsewhere in India the default was always corn. I've been asked if I wanted something different, but it was never assumed.

Given this I find that my expectation runs contrary to the "always wheat" that you mention.

Manoj Govindan said...

@Anonymous: checked again, including some of my friends and corn seems to be the ubiquitous flavour. I'm finding your claim of "always wheat" hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

A tortilla (or flour tortilla to differentiate it from other uses of the word "tortilla") is a type of thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour. Originally derived from the corn tortilla (tortilla in Spanish means "small torta", or "small cake"), a bread of maize which predates the arrival of Europeans to the Americas, the wheat flour tortilla was an innovation after wheat was brought to the New World from Spain while this region was the colony of New Spain. It is made with an unleavened, water based dough, pressed and cooked like corn tortillas.

Flatbread tortillas have been eaten for thousands of years in north, northwest and northeast Mexico, where they are a staple, as well as many southwestern US Native American tribes. More recently, other countries have begun producing them to serve the expatriate Mexican market and the growing demand for Mexican food, particularly in North America, Europe and Eastern Asia.

Tortillas are commonly prepared with meat to make dishes such as tacos, burritos (a dish originating in northern Mexico), and enchiladas. Tortillas are also used to make baleadas, a typical dish from Honduras.

In appearance and use tortillas are rather similar to the South Asian chapati. Tortillas are also very similar to the unleavened bread popular in Arab, eastern Mediterranean and southern Asian countries, though thinner and smaller in diameter. In China, there is the laobing (烙餅), a pizza-shaped thick "pancake" that is similar to the tortilla. The Indian Roti, which is made essentially from wheat flour is another example.

Manoj Govindan said...

@Anonymous: I can dig up definitions too: Tortialla Chips aka Nachos:

A tortilla chip (/tɔrˈtiː.ə tʃɪp/, Spanish: [torˈtiʎa tʃip]) is a snack food made from corn tortillas, which are cut into wedges and then fried (alternatively they may be discs pressed out of corn masa then fried or baked). Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water. Although first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940s,[1] tortilla chips are considered to be a Mexican food, known as tostados.[2] Though usually made of yellow corn (as pictured), they can also be made of white, blue, or red corn. Some manufacturers include many other ingredients including wheat and sugar and MSG.

(Emphasis added)

Manoj Govindan said...

@Anonymous: you'll note that I'm talking specifically about Nachos, otherwise known as Tortilla chips.

Manoj Govindan said...

Since we are on the topic of Tortillas, I decided to investigate how corn tortillas were more predominant in the US. Turns out that in Mexico and Central America the Corn (aka maize) version is predominant:

In Mexico and Central America, a tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground maize (usually called "corn" in the United States). In Guatemala and Mexico, there are three colors of maize dough for making tortillas: white maize, yellow maize and blue maize (or black maize).