Is the quesadilla really a quesadilla if there is no cheese in it?
Quesadilla is a Mexican dish that consists of a corn or wheat tortilla, folded in half and depending on the region can be filled with cheese or other ingredients, eaten hot, either fried or cooked in the comal.
Ahhhh, the delicious and controversial quesadilla: the prodigy obtained after folding a slightly elongated tortilla, filling it with cheese or stews and leaving it simmering on a comal.
Among Mexicans there is an endless debate about whether quesadillas must have cheese or not. In social networks this issue is being discussed with intense conversations by Mexicans who live in different parts of the country.
"Initially it was a campaign meal of the Villista troops. As the Revolution was forged next to the train tracks, that was where everyone gathered and lit stoves for cooking."
These first quesadillas were an improvised dish that they made with flour tortillas from the previous day, reheated in the comal and with cheese from the region which was the typical semi-mature Manchego style. This cheese was the choice of religious missionaries who took it with them to the north of the country when they travelled, because it was the cheese that lasted the longest without refrigeration.
"So yes: initially they were made with cheese. And also, with one that was perfect for the objective of the quesadilla, since it gratins perfectly. However, the diversification of revolutionary troops and their encounters at lunchtime made the dish evolve."
The Villistas began to coexist with the Zapatistas and these, being from the Altiplano area and being so close to the culture of the Milpa, contributed the use of the corn tortilla.
Over the years the quesadilla has changed. Especially in Mexico City.
In Mexico City they give you the option of having cheese or not, in addition to different stews. This is one of the reasons why the rest of the country is involved in heated discussions about the quesadilla!
In most of the states of Mexico, only those prepared exclusively with cheese as a base ingredient are considered quesadillas, to which different stews or additional ingredients can be added, thus acquiring the name of "quesadilla de..." (plus the added ingredient or stew), the most common variants are "quesadilla de carne asada", "quesadilla de camarón", "quesadilla de jamón", "quesadilla de chicharrón", etc. These quesadillas are usually consumed with multiple sauces or additions to highlight the flavor without losing the original flavor of them. Some of these additions are guacamole, hot sauce, pico de gallo sauce, pickled onion, lettuce or chopped cabbage.
The Royal Spanish Academy offered its point of view on the matter.
“First you should know that quesadillas are a typical dish of the gastronomy of Mexico and fall into the category of delicious Mexican snacks.
There are different versions throughout the country, it is a folded tortilla, usually corn, which is filled with cheese or other elements, whether stews or other preparations.”
Here in Vallarta and in the bay, you will find in some restaurants and stalls of "tacos" a variant that is made with corn tortillas extended and toasted on the coals, without folding, on which the cheese and other ingredients are placed. Some call them vampires, volcanoes, pirates, lorenzas or chorreadas.
At the end of the day, with cheese or without cheese, with meat or without meat, folded or flat, corn or flour tortilla, the quesadilla is delicious! And from my own experience, since I have worked with people from more than 65 different countries, I realized that quesadilla is a dish that everyone likes, knows it and at least once in their life, they have eaten it.
Since it is an easy to prepare, economical and versatile dish it is popular for children, very convenient for simple events or large feasts.
In short, the quesadilla is worthy of kings and presidents as well as tourists and adventurers, and like Mexicans say: Buen provecho!