Basically, it’s a Mexican sandwich, which may or may not have come about due to French influences. In fact, the history of the torta is rather vague.
Many say during the French occupation, Mexican bakers took inspiration from the French baguette, which is a hard crusty bread. They used similar bread dough to create smaller loafs called bolillo and telera.
The bolillo is oval shaped and has a crusty exterior and soft interior while the telera is slightly larger, rounder and has a crease or two in the middle. A great torta is defined by the bread having enough texture to hold up, being soft enough to bite and large enough to contain a plethora of ingredients.
On traditional tortas, one half of the roll is smeared with refried beans, while the other is coated with some mashed avocado and a little crema, or Mexican sour cream. Other ingredients could include pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and onion and any variety of meat like pork carnitas, beef barbacoa, shellfish, fish or chicken.
Tortas will also take on distinct flavors based on the Mexican regions where they are made. In Guadalajara, rolls filled with roast beef, ham or milanesa (breaded steak) are dipped in a large jar of thick, hot salsa. In Monterrey and the state of Sonora, the favorite is the carne asada torta. In Tijuana, milanesa and turkey tortas are favored.
The preparation method is relatively straightforward. Before any ingredients are placed on the roll, it is split in half, spread with either butter or mayonnaise and usually toasted quickly on one side on a griddle.
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