In June, the Huhugam Ki Museum hosted a week-long Cecmat/Tortilla Camp for girls and boys ages 10 to 12 to teach them how to make homemade tortillas (cecmat).
The class was taught by long-time Huhugam Ki Museum kitchen employee Sharilyn Belone, who has perfected her tortilla-making skills over the years.
The class started promptly at 6 a.m. to beat the heat. Throughout the week, three to five girls participated each day: Julie Gutierrez, Rosita Howard, Annalisa Estrada, Deja Acosta and Tara Carlos. This year the museum invited boys to attend the class, but none signed up.
“No one showed up on the first day (Monday),” said Belone. “But on Tuesday three girls showed up, and by Wednesday there were five girls. This year we had a small group, compared to last year and the year before.”
The students were responsible for bringing their own bowls, cookie sheet, two hand towels and an apron, all the tools they needed to make cecmat. The girls used the bowls to mix the ingredients: flour, salt, lard and warm water. Once all the ingredients were mixed together, they kneaded the dough until it was the proper consistency, then rubbed a bit of lard on their hands as they started to make dough balls. The dough balls were placed on a cookie sheet and left to sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. Once the dough was soft, the girls dipped the dough balls into flour and pinched the edges to make them thin, then began to pat out the dough to make flat tortillas. Working with the dough balls was difficult for some, but by the end of the week it began to get easier.
“As they were learning how to pinch [the dough balls] and then flap them [to make larger tortillas], they had kind of a hard time,” said Belone. “I told them it’s something they would have to work at, and later on they will probably have bigger tortillas.”
On Friday, the last day of the camp, only two girls showed up, Tara Carlos and Deja Acosta. The two had attended the camp all week with the exception of Monday. They both put what they had learned to good use by making their own cecmat with a little help from Belone; each girl prepared and made a dozen or more cecmat.
After the week’s classes were over, Belone presented the girls with a certificate of completion and an apron that she handmade herself to give as a gift to the girls for their hard work.
“I am really proud of each of them, they are really into [making cecmat] and they are really learning,” said Belone.