Friday, December 26, 2003

Small manufacturing

Since the last time that we visited the H-E-B over on the east side near the Cepeda library, a small tortilla-making machine has been set up. Strictly speaking, the attendant makes the tortillas. I think that the masa harina was probably prepared in something like a floor-standing Hobart mixer. The young woman in attendance had made balls of dough. I can't remember whether she was patting them out or whether the machine pressed them. I'd guess that the machine extruded each ball and flattened it into a circle. I can't remember, either, whether the machine was electrified or gas-fired (the latter, I think). The flattened circle appeared first at the top of a tower and dropped onto a very hot, thin metal plate. Then the plate tipped, dropping the dough down to the next hot plate, but with its second surface to the plate. After a tortilla had baked briefly on each plate, it was delivered to a very small, flimsy conveyor belt that lifted it up to a surface, cooling it a bit all the while. Then the attendant grabbed it up and added it to the stack. The tortillas sampled were very thin and extremely hot. We would have bought some except that they were a bit on the salty side. In our trashy telenovela and farandula magazines there are often ads offering tortilla-making machines for sale. A search on the Web reveals kazillion kinds of tortilla machines. We found everything we were looking for, including The Villager, Nokoa, Arriba, and La Prensa.


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