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Mexican Kitchen

Fill your Mexican kitchen with fun and practical equipment

If you like freshly made tortillas, you have probably already discovered a tortilla press. Presses are available in a range of styles and price ranges - at the local mercado or at specialty cooking stores. Purists still avoid the electric models and opt for the cast iron manual units. They prefer the taste and looks of a tortilla that is cooked on a griddle.

Some utensils and kitchen supplies are hard to find, such as the "metate," or grinding stone. Comprised of volcanic rock, it has three legs and a sloping surface. If you discover the joys of making masa (instead of using corn flour already ground) or if you want to pulverize sugar, then this is what you would use. The "masher" is called a muller.

A molcajete is the Mexican cook's answer to a blender. It, too is made of volcanic rock and has three legs. It is bowl-shaped to hold in spices or avocado and a host of other ingredients. The tejolote is its companion - mortar and pestle, really.

Temper both the above items before use by grinding up a mixture of rice and salt on the surfaces. This removes grit and lime-like dust. If possible, inspect these pieces before you purchase - if they feel overly chalky, continue shopping.

The molinollo is a wooden version of a whisk. They can be quite ornate in design and are popular in Mexican markets. Even if you never use one, it is attractive enough to include in an arrangement of utensils on your kitchen counter.

Tortilla warmers have been on the scene for many years: in plastic, clay, and ceramic versions. They can be plain or quite decorative and are practical as well. If you don't have a warmer, just wrap the fresh tortillas in a clean dishcloth.

If you do find clay serving bowls, remember that they are quite fragile. Also, make sure that they are sealed on the inside, especially for holding acidic foods. You can seal them yourself, but then you should only use them for decoration or as a planter.

A "comal" is used to cook flour and corn tortillas. It is a flat griddle made of cast iron. A pancake griddle will work as well, but it's always nice to add an authentic touch to Mexican dishes.

It's always exciting to try out a new piece of kitchen equipment, especially if it has a little bit of "history" that goes with the food.


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