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The Comal

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I picked up an interesting tidbit today about comales [siila], which are flat disks of varying sizes that are set on tripods over open fires (smaller ones can be set on stove tops), and are used as a cooking surface for making tortillas and other foodstuff.  I had assumed contemporary griddles were made of metal—the stove top varieties seem to consistently be so—but I found out that ones made out of clay [guuna’] are still the preferred variety for most traditional types of cooking.  I was told that they are better for toasting things, such as beans [daa] and pepitas (squash seeds) [laasi ettu] and for making tortillas [etta], because the metal ones get too hot and heat up too quickly burning the beans, seeds, or dough.  Unfortunately, I guess clay comales may not be so readily available in the US, where there is, of course, less cooking by open fire.  My friend, Nacho, suggested you could bring one back from Oaxaca, but you would have to carry it in your lap to make sure it didn’t get broken on the way back, which explains something I hadn’t understood before:  every household seems to have a broken comal, kept I guess because they still have large enough surfaces for cooking some things on.  That they might break, of course, now makes more sense since I understand they are made of clay.

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