I crave Mexican food just about every other day. Taco Tuesdays are my second religion, and I cannot imagine life without chips and guac. But one Mexican dish that I'm not too familiar with is a torta. I've seen it pop up on my Insta feed, and I think I remember having one at the Mexican restaurant in my hometown long ago. So, what is a torta? That's what we're here to find out, because obviously I'm going to run out and try one after I've read up on this Mexican street food. 

The Mexican Sandwich

Imagine that a sandwich and a taco got married and had a kid. That kid would be named Torta. Bread, meat, cheese, veggies. A torta is a Mexican sandwich. It's a fluffy bun spread with butter and topped with anything you can imagine—refried beans, creamy avocado, spicy peppers—and piled with meat(s) and cheese(s) of your choosing. A torta has similar flavors to a taco, but the bread adds a whole new dynamic. 

Tortas come in all sorts of varieties, so you'll never get sick of them. Some of the most common tortas have meats prepared similarly to taco fillings—chicken, steak, carnitas, vegan, etc. You'll definitely find a torta that suits your taste.

History of the Torta

The torta has a pretty confusing history. Some say it originated during the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860s. Some sources say that bakers in Mexico took inspiration from the French baguette and made smaller loaves called bolillo and telera, which were both used to make sandwiches. 

Another theory is that the torta was created by "mistake." The torta ahogada or “drowned sandwich” was born in the early 1900s. A street vendor in Guadalajara, Mexico accidentally dropped a sandwich in a container of salsa when handing it to the customer. The customer ate it anyway and ended up loving it. 

The most traditional torta is prepared with a fluffy roll (similar to brioche) and stuffed with fried pork carnitas. The torta is then either media ahogada (“half drowned” or partially dipped) or bien ahogada (“well drowned”) in spicy salsa, depending on how the consumer likes it. However, tortas now come in different variations, and different regions of Latin American countries all have their own traditional ways of preparing these delightful sammies. 

Sandwich or Cake?

Torta also means cake in Spanish, so why is this completely different dish (a sandwich, at that) called by the same name? The reason is: they just are. They're homonyms, so their names are spelled the same but they are two completely different foods. There are other words for cake in Spanish (such as el pastel) and other words for sandwich (such as el sándwich). 

The word “torta” can mean several different things across many regions of Spanish-speaking countries, in both Latin America and overseas. In Spain, a "torta" can refer to a type of traditional omelet. 

#SpoonTip: Have a torta (sandwich) for dinner and a torta (cake) for dessert. 

When to Eat Them

Do not order a torta if you're trying to impress someone on a first date. They are big and incredibly messy, so try to save your experience for when you're with your friends. They are also perfectly easy to make. Just take your favorite Taco Tuesday filling recipe and stuff it between two slices of bread for instant #foodporn. 

Wherever you decide to try a torta, you're in for a life-changing experience. Tacos and sandwiches, please remain married and keep having children because tortas are simply irresistible.