Open Letter to the Corn Tortillas from Union Market

Dear “corn tortillas” from Union Market on Court St. in Brooklyn,

Your low price deceives you. The $1.99 cost your sticker bears next to that green star leads foolish buyers like me to believe that your taco-facilitating abilities are authentic. I am here to tell you that they are not.

At just under two dollars, you feign to be comparable to the fresh, handmade masa corn tortillas I have known from the markets of San Francisco’s Mission District; of San Diego, and other places where I have successfully purchased corn tortillas. Those range in price from $.75 – 1.50 and depict hopeful palm trees and mariachi and women with dahlia flowers in their lush hair. Usually there are also red and green colors, the colors of the flag of that beautiful country south of the US border. Have you ever even been out of the country, “corn tortillas”?

Your texture makes me think not.

Your packaging is clear, empty. Like the bleak dystopian universe that your lack of ability beckons me to descend into for all of eternity. Or at least until I can go on vacation to California, or Mexico. Or just get myself to Queens’ Tortilleria Nixtamal.

Under pressure, you fall apart. Specifically, I mean underneath the grilled fish or scallops that I season with the Mexican blend spices that I also buy from the store of your origin. I’m there, anyway, at the store and I need some spicy season. So what? That stuff can handle the heat. But I know you couldn’t. I bet you couldn’t even handle tofu.

In fact, I know you can’t handle tofu because two weeks ago I tried to employ your supposed abilities on vegetarian tacos and within minutes, that spicy soy protein fell out of your “corn”-based form and all over my plate. I had to use a fork. And a knife.

Drawing from my 25+ years of experience as a Californian, I know that you’re not supposed to eat tacos with utensils.

Where are you even from, Canada? Is the origin of your private labeling warehouse somewhere that doesn’t even know the glories of sunshine, and of fish tacos, and of guacamole? Sometimes I wonder if you’ve ever even seen an ocean.

Time and again, I am disappointed. And yet, I persist. I want to believe, corn tortillas from Union Market on Court St, that we can have a life together. That together, we can make something special.  But you can’t be the kind of corn tortilla that I need. And so, I have to cut you into quarters, add some sunflower oil to your bleak-looking surface, squeeze a lime with a dash of salt and bake you for twenty minutes in the oven. I will confess that as chips, you are pretty delicious. But that’s not what we agreed to, and I wish you would try harder.

However, the flour tortilla version of you is pretty acceptable.

Disappointedly, but still vaguely optimistic and unlikely to go out of my way to change my shopping habits,

Yours,

Not,

Jana

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