Charlene Hernandez holds part of a tortilla she made more than a year ago that she says has the shape of an alien on it. (Ilissa Gilmore Photo)
The mysteries of Roswell don’t just happen in the night skies — they can happen in the kitchen as well.
Last spring, Charlene Hernandez made flour tortillas for family members. As usual, she mixed by hand the standard ingredients — flour, lard and baking powder — rolled out disks of dough and cooked them on a cast iron griddle. However, some of this batch turned out different.
Once toasted, shapes appeared that to her resemble strange things. In one, she sees the shape of an alien and in another, she sees possibly a dancer with an outstretched arm and a turtle.
For more than a year, Hernandez has kept the tortillas on a paper plate, in the open air, on a shelf over the sink in her tiny, but well-stocked kitchen.
Though mostly intact, the tortillas are now more like crackers, hard, crumbly and dry. But strangest of all to Hernandez, none have grown moldy.
“It’s amusing to me that they haven’t molded,” she said. “I have had tortillas stored for a week that have gone moldy!”
Making tortillas is a family tradition to Hernandez, who learned from her mother, who learned from her mother, and so on.
Hernandez’s grandmother, Miquela, made tortillas on a wood stove three times a day for her husband and 14 children.
Charlene makes tortillas and said it takes about an hour for her to make 14 of them.
“But they’re way better than store bought,” she said. “It’s a simple recipe, but it’s my recipe. In New Mexico, everyone makes them, but everyone has their own style.”
For three years, Hernandez sold bread varieties, such as zucchini, spinach and potato, downtown at the city’s farmers market. She said banana bread sold the best.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun,” she said.
Hernandez is writing a book about tortillas and similar breads around the world.
“All countries have a flatbread, they just call it something else,” she said.