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Tortilla de rescoldo is a specific type of Chilean bread that represents some of the most primitive cooking methods still used in today’s modern culinary world; this simple flour bread is a round, flat unleavened loaf cooked directly in fire or embers. While many references to this food may be available online or in books, more detailed descriptions of it are hard to come by. Local accounts and other sources reveal more about how this basic food is made, what it consists of, and how it is commonly used in Chile.
In contrast to other Chilean breads, such as hallulla or others that are baked in ovens, tortilla de rescoldo is truly a humble dish. Some refer to it as “ash bread” because it is often cooked in the ashes of a fire. Those who prepare this bread often need to brush it off extensively in order to clear the bits of ash from the surface of the bread. The tortilla de rescoldo is also frequently heavily charred or even burned, illustrating how modern ovens have been able to give breads a much cleaner presentation than primitive fire-cooking methods. The tortilla de rescoldo also takes a lot more effort to cook than modern breads, which are just slipped easily into an oven or even baked on automatic conveyors.
Some sources reveal more about why Chileans may still cook this type of bread. In some cases, cooking the bread in a fire can allow it to bake overnight. In the morning, cooks simply remove it from the fire, where it is often still warm. Some of those who cook and use tortilla de rescoldo may enjoy it along with other foods, such as empanadas, which also include bread elements, but feature a stuffing made of meat or other ingredients. These two foods together often provide a meal for a Chilean picnic or informal lunch.
Certain wines are often recommended to complement these breads, where a classic wine and bread lunch is common in many countries around the world. Many red wines can impart more flavor to a meal including tortilla de rescoldo or similar breads, which do not include a lot of intense flavor components. Although it is a simple food, this flat bread remains a staple in some Chilean communities, and has no little cultural significance as well.
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