Over the last decades, Mexican cuisine has conquered the world and foods like Tacos or Guacamole are pretty much available in the most remote corners of the globe. However, one of Mexican’s favorite street foods has not made it outside the country: Torta. This typical type of sandwich comes in many different variations, hot or cold, and can be bought from so-called torterías on almost every street corner across the entire country.
Tortas always come with a white sandwich bun called bolillo, telera, birote, or pan francés depeding on the region. The bread rolls are crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The main toppings are usually mayonnaise, tomato, avocado, beans, mustard and jalapeños. Spicy sauces like chipotle or guacamole give the sandwich its final touch. While homemade Tortas can be filled with any ingredient possible, the ones from street vendours usually come as “Simple”. This type contains one main topping such as Milanesa, beef, ham, pork, chicken, Oaxaca cheese, yellow cheese, sausage, chorizo, seafood or bacon.
Typical versions and local specialties
As certain combinations became very popular all over Mexico or with locals in specific regions, characteristic names evolved and thereby established those versions of the classic Torta.
“Cubana” is basically the queen of all Tortas and a true monster. Take all imaginable toppings and pile them onto a gigantic piece of bread. This special version is typical in Mexico City where everything is simply bigger and more intense. Torta Ahogada, meaning drowned Torta, comes in a fiery chili sauce. The spicy sandwich with shredded pork on a baguette-like roll is a specialty from Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. The León special, dubbed “Guacamaya”, combines chicharrones – crunchy pork rinds – with spicy pico de gallo and sliced avocado on a soft bun. Apart from these favorites, there are many other traditional variations with names such as Pepito, Pambazo, Cemita, Pelona or Marinas. Other modern versions are more or less respected by locals. Among these are for instance the Swiss Torta with the country’s famous cheese or Arab Torta with Middle Eastern-style meat.
While all these variations of the classic Torta play a huge role in Mexico’s street food culture today, the roots of the original Torta are unclear. Some sources claim that the sandwich evolved in the Mexican state of Puebla due to Spanish-French interaction during colonial times. The telera bread that is usually used for Tortas was inspired by French baguettes.
La Feria de la Torta
As burgers, pizza and other fast foods gained more and more popularity with Mexicans over the last decades, the borough of Venustiano Carranza in Mexico City initiated the Feria de la Torta in 2003. The festival has been taking place since then every year between July and August on the neighborhood’s esplanade. A great spectacle to promote Torta and rescue it as a Mexican culinary heritage.