You Can Only Stretch So Far

She misses burritos more than almost anything. I mean, obviously not more than the freedom to be outdoors, and the feeling that it is safe to go to the market, but quite a lot.

So okay. We have everything we need for burritos: chicken, veg, spices, cheese, sour cream, a bit of not-too-wilted cilantro, even the last of a container of guacamole. But not tortillas. There’s a market within an easy walk that I’m sure has them in stock, this is not the time to just make a quick run to pick up one thing.

I am resourceful. If I can make tater tots, I should be able to make tortillas. Not as well as a commercial bakery, but well enough. Flour, water, salt, shortening—these we have. I mixed up the dough and let it rest in a covered bowl on the counter during my afternoon of teaching.

She came downstairs after her long day, beat. “Would you like a burrito for dinner?” “YES!—but no,” she said; no restaurant trips for us yet. I showed her the bowl. “You’re making tortillas!” It was like I could spin straw into gold.

I sautéed strips of onion and pepper, then the strips of chicken, and got them all toasty with cumin and paprika and just a little heat from chili powder, and sauced just a little from some tomato paste and a bit of water stirred in just before everything was cooked through. That was the easy part.

I portioned the dough, heated the pan, got out the rolling pin. Try as I might, I just could not get the dough rolled thin and wide enough to bake something that would wrap appropriately into the snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug shape of a proper burrito. I was frustrated, but the toasty not-quite-flatbreads that were coming off the hot pan smelled amazing.

“Soft tacos, then,” she said with commendable adaptability.

Soft tacos it was, then. The best soft tacos ever? Maybe not. But certainly the best ones I’ve ever made. Surely not the best tortillas, but definitely the freshest we’ve ever had. I may put tortillas on the grocery list; I may poke around on-line to see if I can find an instructional video with tips on how to get homemade ones thinner; I may say burritos are something we’ll wait for until we feel like visiting restaurants again. As for homemade tortilla dough, it may be that, like a budget or a frisky kitten’s patience–“Play with me now, Papa!”–some things can only stretch so far.

Thankfully, and well fed, we haven’t yet reached the breaking point.

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