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Tortas: Everything on a Bun
“Torta” may sound like _tortilla, but it’s founded on an entirely different form of flour. Open up this Mexican sandwich with Groupon’s exploration._
If it can go in a taco or burrito, it can probably go in a torta. But the sandwich, packaged in a toasted, soft-centered ovoid bun called a bolillo or a rounder version called a talera, resides somewhat in the shadow of its flatter sibling. Most of Mexican cuisine is obviously marked by the intersection of Spanish and indigenous ingredients—Spanish livestock, eggs, and dairy; Central American corn, tomatoes and chilies—but there’s a third culture whose influence pops up in the torta. For three benighted years in the 1860s, the Napoleon III–backed Second Mexican Empire ruled the country, and the imported royals ignited a vogue for French-style cooking, including the use of leavened bread and silly hats.
Today, in the US, you’re likely to find bolillos piled high with fillings such as breaded steak, grilled or roasted pork, carne asada, ham, or chicken—each embellished with toppings such as refried beans, lettuce, avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, and cilantro. In Mexico, the choices are even wider, including turkey, octopus, or salt cod, perhaps, for traditionalists, or even a combo of sliced hot dogs, melted cheese, and jalapeños. Mexico City’s torta guajolota takes the spirit of carb-loving excess even further; inside its bolillo is an entire tamale.