Nixtamalization means fresh tortillas at South Philly Barbacoa (video)

When you bite into a taco, you are tasting the results of an ancient chemical process called nixtamalization. It’s a technique that hasn’t changed much since 1500 BCE, and along the way it helped the Aztecs rise to power and made tortillas softer, tastier, and much more nutritious. Today, Benjamin Miller and Christina Martinez are the only chefs in Philadelphia making their tortillas from scratch, which means they practice the ancient art of nixtamalization.

Since Mariel Carr made this video, South Philly Barbacoa moved around the corner and changed its name to El Compadre. It’s smack dab in the middle of Philadelphia’s Ninth Street Italian street market — the street food paradise made famous in the film Rocky.