When we think of maize, we think of humans’ ability to pull sustenance from soil. Both ancient and symbolic, the grain was cultivated and consumed by the Olmec and Maya in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, before conquistadors and colonists learned of its miracles and planted the hearty crop across the globe, where it continues to be ubiquitous.
Now, John Rivera Sedlar—named Esquire’s 2011 chef of the year—gives maize its due at his L.A. restaurants Rivera and Playa. The most pared-down preparation, which truly glorifies the ingredient, is in the form of tortillas florales, made from fresh masa and served all chewy and warm with a generous serving of what Sedlar’s menus call Indian butter (guacamole).
But know this: These are no run-of-the-press tortillas. Sedlar’s flair for visual artistry on the plate, as well as his occasional flights of culinary whimsy, are undeniable, for as the name suggests, vibrant organic edible flowers are delicately pressed into each cake before it is cooked.
When last we checked in with Sedlar, he relayed that he was “in Mexico teaching Mexican chefs how to make tortillas.” So, when he assures us this is “the best corn tortilla in the world,” we tend to believe.
View Full Article in LA Times Magazine