“The first time I worked with fresh masa, I was making tortillas for a Mexican feast that friends and I were preparing for New Year’s Eve. I had bought the dough from Moctec Mexican Products, the Landover company that specializes in transforming dried maize into fresh, fragrant masa. I was smitten on first sniff, even after paying nearly $10 for the five-pound bag of white corn masa.
Consciously or not, I had developed an opinion that fresh masa was virtually foolproof, far easier to turn into tortillas than dough made from masa harina, the corn flour available for about $3 for a four-plus-pound bag of Maseca. But as I pressed the dough into tortillas for the griddle, I quickly learned that this fresh product is not the masa equivalent of a Gabriel García Márquez novel, so magical that it’s immune to the physical laws of the universe…
I turned to cookbook author and television host Pati Jinich for help. I explained my New Year’s Eve masa mess and asked whether the fresh stuff requires specialized handling compared with dough made with masa harina. She said no, but then offered a confession: This native of Mexico prefers the taste of reconstituted masa harina over the full-throttle flavors of fresh masa. The former resonates deeply with Jinich; it represents home, family, childhood…”
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