Simply put, a flatbread is any kind of bread that is flat. It may be made with unleavened dough, as is the case with many varieties, or it may be made from leavened dough that is flattened out before baking. Many cultures have their own version, and it was probably one of the earliest bread products ever made. Some of the oldest extant examples of food found in tombs and archaeological sites have been flatbreads. They vary widely in size, shape, texture, and ingredients.

Unleavened flatbread has a special symbolic role for several religions, especially Judaism. Matzo is a common example, and it traditionally takes the form of a rectangular crisp cracker. Tortillas are a softer version, made with corn or flour, depending on the region and the dish. The disparity between these two dishes helps to illustrate the wide range of flatbreads eaten around the world.

Some other examples include chapati, injera, pita, lavash, and naan. Many of these breads are designed to work like eating utensils for scooping up foods from a common serving platter. They can also be wrapped or rolled around foods, stuffed like sandwiches, or eaten plain. Almost every culture with access to grain has devised some kind of bread that is flat, made from ingredients like wheat, teff, corn, rye, or rice.

At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Mexica or the Aztec, as they were commonly called, were the dominant people in Meso-America in 1519. In their search for gold, the Spanish conquerors found a strange and gorgeous civilization in the Aztec and to their delight the most unusual of its glories was its food.Tortillas, or "tlaxcallim", were the principal food of the ancient Aztecs. Flour tortillas were created when the Spanish brought wheat to the New World. (Corn tortillas date back thousands of years before Christ.)

Mexican cooking starts now as in the Aztec days with tortillas, the "bread of Mexico" and only those who have tasted them hot off the griddle know how good tortillas can be.Tortillas can be used as plates, forks and spoons. Dip them into stews and use torn-off pieces to scoop up sauces. They can be eaten plain or with butter, beans or meat, chili or sauces…almost any kind of food that is not too liquid can be placed on a tortilla…the "bread of Mexico"!

Interesting facts....

  • The tortilla industry is the fastest growing sector in the U.S. baking industry.
  • In 2000, tortilla sales in the U.S. reached the $4.4 billion mark and hit $5.7 billion dollars in sales in 2002 and reached $6.1 billion dollars in 2004 and is expected to continue to grow at 10% per year.
  • As testament to their popularity, the Tortilla Industry Association (TIA) estimates that Americans consumed approximately 85 billion tortillas in 2000 (not including tortilla chips).
  • More than 1000 companies in the U.S. are devoted to making tortillas.
  • Tortillas are more popular today in the U.S. than all other ethnic breads, such as bagels, English muffins and pita bread.
  • 62% of the food industry; both commerical and non-commercial businesses reported using tortilla products in their operations.

Nutritional Information:
Flour tortillas are a low-fat food and contain iron along with other B vitamins. They have about 115 calories with 2 to 3 grams of fat per serving.