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The Mexican Generosity of Bread & Tortillas

Published October 1, 2022 in Mexico - 0 Comments

There's one small detail that you notice in some parts of Mexico like Mexico City, Estado de Mexico, Pachuca de Soto, etc.

And that is that Mexicans are quite generous when it comes to giving out tortillas and bread.

...Even in cases where it doesn't make sense to you as the foreigner.

And I emphasize "you as a foreigner" because, given how many Mexicans do this, I suppose it's normal for them.

Just a difference in perception.

At any rate, what I'm talking about is when you order food somewhere and they give you stale bread or tortillas on top of what you ordered.

For example, when I first moved to Mexico City years ago, there was a restaurant near where I lived in Roma Norte that is popular around the city but I don't remember the name of it anymore as I haven't been back in years.

I think it was Vips?

Anyway, I'd eat there whenever as it was just around the corner of my apartment back then and would always get enchiladas, flautas, etc.

But, regardless of what the food was, I'd get a little appetizer at first.

Sometimes, the appetizer would be normal crackers.

Other times they were chips and actually I enjoyed the chips more than anything else.

In other cases, they'd give me a basket of very plain and stale bread with literally nothing to enjoy it.

No salsa.


And I'd think "why did they give me this?"

Do Mexicans really enjoy eating stale and plain bread before eating a meal?


Similarly, you'll notice that they often give you some bread with your enchiladas. 

Here's an example of some random bread I was given last time I had enchiladas in Iztapalapa of Mexico City.

Regardless of the place I have eaten at, they always offer me it.

At first, I wouldn't accept it if they asked me ahead of time if "I want bread."

Just never felt the need for them to waste the bread by giving it to me as I'd never eat the thing.

Just throw it away.

Maybe offer it to a homeless person or put it in the kitchen of a shared apartment in case anyone else wanted to make use of it.

However, very quickly soon after, I realized why they gave it to me.

When you finish the enchiladas, you can mix it in with the remaining bits of the salsa and eat it that way.

At least then it'll have flavor.

Similarly, I believe places have given me bread for chilaquiles if I remember right (it's been a while since I had chilaquiles).

And it's the same thing -- there's left over salsa usually that you can just mix it with.

Above all, at least that makes sense.

And, now that I think about my experience at whatever restaurant that was, maybe that was their logic?

Here's some bread for your meal that you'll be getting.

Not really an appetizer then, is it?

More of a small snack after the meal.

Similarly, you have tortillas.

And, if I'm being honest with you, this is where I get confused.

Sometimes, the tortillas make sense like if you order queso fundido.

Though, if the queso fundido just has queso and no meat inside it, I don't know why you'd even order the damn thing or have tortillas with it.

Tortillas of just cheese with no meat inside it?

It's like when you order quesadillas in Mexico City and they ask if you want cheese with it.

Of course I do!

But meat also.

Just seems to be lacking that "something extra" without the meat in the quesadilla or queso fundido.

Anyway, you have alambre and fajitas too.

That makes sense also for why they'd include the tortillas.

But, having said that, sometimes I'd get the tortillas in meals included that just don't make sense to me.

For example, I ordered a "carne en su jugo" the other day and they included tortillas.

I guess I could've taken the meat outside of the jugo and put it in the tortillas.

Could work. Sure.

But it just feels more like a meal to enjoy in of itself.

Grab a spoon and enjoy it that way.

And, in that last few months where I've been trying a wide range of new Mexican foods that I've never had before like carne en su jugo (which I highly recommend), there's been other cases where they gave me tortillas with my Uber Eats order.

I don't remember all of them.

I do remember that, with my meal yesterday that included flautas de cochinita pibil, birria and papa, they included tortillas for that also.

Tortillas for flautas.

The fuck?

Do they expect me to put the flautas in the tortilla or were they just being nice and including free stuff?

Probably the latter.

Though, as you can see here, it's not uncommon for some Mexicans to put stuff together that doesn't make too much sense for foreigners.

The tamal in the torta.

Actually, that's not uncommon for Mexicans to try out several "food in the torta" ideas.

Like how they have "tacos in the torta" as you an see here or "chilaquiles de torta."

I've never tried though tamal in the torta but the chilaquiles idea actually works well if they cook it right.

So don't knock it until you try it.

Even if it sounds weird!

Flautas in the tortilla?

OK, that does sound weird too!

But, though I didn't try that when I got my order yesterday, I can't knock it because maybe they were onto something!

Similarly, I remember getting the tortillas with other food items.

Especially if they are more "soup" based meals like the sopa chileatole.

In the more soup based meals, I can only guess that they expected me to take food out of the soup and into the tortilla.

Or, as I said, maybe they were just trying to be nice by including free tortillas.

After all, as you can see here, Mexicans can be quite concerned about their tortilla costs!

Plenty of news articles online these days about that damn price of tortillas going up.

Even to the point that they seemingly have some government agency going after those who break the rules on how much tortillas can cost as you can see here!

"No hay justificación para subir precio de la tortilla: Profeco Abusos serían sancionados hasta con el 100% del valor de las ventas."

Mexicans: they take their tortillas seriously.

I can't blame them though.

If there was a country where everyone had the same taste buds as me, it'd probably include a culture where free samples of vodka, black tea and bacon were given whenever.

Just replace the free tortillas and bread with all the above.

And it isn't something I am complaining about either.

Who can complain about free food?

Be it the bread or the tortillas.

Though, to be fair, the tortillas often go to waste.

Though I can cook tacos (to my own style and bad cooking ability), I can't cook anything else within typical Mexican cuisine.

Sometimes I have remembered to just give the free tortillas to some neighbor.

Perhaps a cleaning lady that visits the building.

I do the same when they give me salsa I don't want.

If I don't throw it away and have someone to give it to, might as well instead of wasting it.

Though, like I said, the bread sometimes does get used if I happen to be ordering enchiladas or chilaquiles where I can mix it with the left over salsa afterwards.

So it is what it is.

At any rate, I got nothing else to add here.

Just a small little detail you might notice about life here in Mexico City.

If you got anything add -- even a possible explanation for some of what has been described here -- go ahead and let me know in the comments.

Since I'm a foreigner to the culture (even with the years here), I'm sure there's extra details to the small matter that have gone over my head.

And follow my Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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