The tortilla is a central ingredient of an entire lexicon of cookery, whose sauces and stuffings serve only to give it variety and interest.
It is the substance of casseroles and stews, it thickens soups, it enfolds meats and vegetables in many ways and is even used in many households instead of a fork and spoon.
Apart from sopping up rich sauces, what other ways are tortillas used in Mexico?
Tostadas are fried whole tortillas, usually garnished with any of several toppings -- refried beans, cheese, meat, pigskin.
Pieces of tortilla fried to a crisp used as snacks are known as totopos.
Tacos (sold on street corners everywhere) are tortillas doubled over a filling — usually meat — and garnished with chopped onion, lime juice and chili sauce. Tortillas for tacos are usually very thin and only three inches in diameter, making for easier eating.
Flautas are large tortillas rolled tightly around a filling to form a flutelike cylinder that is fried until crisp.
Quesadillas are uncooked tortillas folded over a filling and griddle cooked. The word has got mixed up with queso (cheese) and now often means fried tortillas filled with cheese.
Enchiladas are tortillas wrapped in chile sauce then fried and wrapped around a variety of ingredients.
Chilaquiles is a casserole dish made with left-over, hardened tortillas, fried, mixed with a green or red sauce, garnished with clotted cream and cheese and usually served at breakfast.