The Guajolota Chronicles: A Culinary Journey through Mexico City
The guajolota is one of the typical and iconic foods of Mexico City.
Every day, it feeds thousands of people from the Mexican capital who are faithful to its flavor.
If you live in Mexico City or have been there as a traveler, you probably heard of one of the most loved and acclaimed street foods: the guajolota.
The term “guajolota” translates to “female turkey”
This torta is nothing more than a type of “baguette” sliced open and filled with a tamale.
It can be easily found in the mornings, as it is usually eaten for breakfast.
People from Mexico city locate its flavor thanks to the aroma given off by the “tamaleros” (vendors) or the loudspeakers announcing when they’re passing close to their home.
The Guajolota, a long-time tradition
Every day without exception, in the streets of Mexico city, tamaleros appear at dawn.
Before the workers leave their homes, the guajolotas are there, waiting to feed millions of Mexicans who begin their activities.
They are usually found in the busiest areas: crossroads of main avenues, parks, bus stops, or subway exits.
Every resident knows the tamalero of his choice and will not change him for any other.
As if that were not enough, its price is affordable, ranging from 10 to 20 pesos (a dollar or less).
Both versions are called “guajolocombo” and are especially treasured on winter mornings.
The guajolota should always be wrapped with a piece of brown paper that impregnates its aroma. It is part of the experience.
There are other more elaborate versions of guajolota, such as fried tamale.
Unlike the common torta, in this version, the tamale is reheated in oil.
Once browned, it is placed inside a white bread or bolillo.
Generally, in the places where guajolota is offered, you will find tortas de chilaquiles, another of the delicacies of the big city.
Thanks to the proximity between both corn foods, there are now guajolotas accompanied by cream and white cheese.
The most common tamales used to make guajolota are corn husks, although they can also be made with a tamale from Oaxaca.
The flavor doesn’t matter; it can be sweet, mole, rajas, green, etc.
There are different versions of why the tamale torta is called guajolota, and some think it is because of its caloric value since it makes you put on weight like a “guajolote” (turkey).
Origin of the Guajolota
Tamale tortas are an energy bomb that provides the body with anywhere between 800 and 1000 calories (depending on the size of that delicious piece of dough, meat, and sauce).
Although you find them in every corner of most neighborhoods, the tradition of eating bread stuffed with corn dough and meat was not invented here.
You may want to read: Tortas Ahogadas: History, Recipe, and Other Secrets
According to Mexican historian José N. Iturriaga, the guajolota was born in Puebla.
In the book “La cultura del antojito. De tacos, tamales y tortas…,” Iturriaga explains that the original guajolota was a pambazo bread filled with a red enchilada stuffed with pork.
When this snack arrived in Mexico City, it was adapted into a tamale torta since the bread filling was still corn dough stuffed with pork and sauce.
Nowadays, it is rare to find pork tamales. Chicken has taken over this food, and those filled with purslane or other ingredients that seek to substitute meat are becoming a trend.