YAM magazine - July/August 2020

Page 54

But there’s a difference between a corn tortilla made with corn flour and the traditional Nixtamal tortilla, a more complex process that starts with whole heirloom corn.

NIXTAMAL TACOS

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Chef Israel Alvarez has made it his mission to introduce Canadian diners to the true, traditional Mexican tortilla, created by cooking, soaking and grinding a masa (dough) from whole kernel dried corn, then forming and grilling each toothsome tortilla to order. A recent transplant from Mexico City, Alvarez started his Canadian cooking journey in Edmonton, then brought his hand-made Nixtamal tortillas to Victoria diners, where they became legendary to regulars at Victoria’s Breakwater Grill and Tasting Room. Post pandemic, Alvarez will continue his authentic Mexican taco explorations with direct sales of his Nixtamal tortillas, and a series of pop-up dinners this summer and fall at local restaurants ranging from Nowhere, Saveur, Wild Mountain and Harvest Road, to Pluvio in Ucluelet. Though most diners, even in Mexico, now eat corn tortillas made with masa harina flour, Alvarez says this type of tortilla is a result of industrial farming and food processing, and bears little resemblance to a traditional tortilla made with non-GMO, landrace varieties of whole corn. Like the artisan breads from bakers who mill whole grains for their loaves, grinding whole, heirloom corn is the healthy way to make Mexico’s traditional daily bread, he says.

Chef Israel Alvarez (pictured in the Breakwater Tasting Room) uses handmade Nixtamal tortillas for his tacos.

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