the increasing popularity of Mexican corn based products such
as tortillas, tortilla chips, tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, nachos,
tamales, and many others, there is great interest in research
into alkaline cooking and processing of tortillas. Mexican food—particularly
tacos, which are the Mexican fast food— is becoming increasingly
popular in the world. Tortillas are finely engineered and can
be used as an edible spoon or plate to consume different foods.
Tortillas are a well designed product that have been used on
space flights due to the fact that they can be easily stored
and also because they can be broken and torn apart without producing
crumbs or fine particles that might damage equipment.
Tortillas are very versatile. They can be used to accompany
other foods without overpowering their flavor. Dry tortillas
are still edible, don't spoil, and can easily be rehydrated.
This versatility is one of the reasons why tacos and Mexican
food in general have won wide acceptance in the world market.
The special, unmistakable flavor of tortillas made from nixtamal
is another cause of costumer preference. The reactions among
lime, water, and protein that occur during the alkaline cooking
of corn break down the amino acid tryptophan and produce the
distinctive smell and flavor of nixtamal. Another important
reaction occurs in the lipids and proteins when corn is fried,
producing a distinctive corn smell. The aroma produced by heating
N-furfural pyrrol is only found in corn, and not in other cereals
like rice, sorghum or other grains. Lipid and protein reactions
at high temperatures produce the distinctive smell and flavor
of popcorn. It might seem that modern day snacks have only recently
appeared in our culinary environment, but this is not the case.
There is ample evidence that people have been enjoying popcorn
and tortilla based snacks for hundreds of years.