South of the Border Sensational
Guey Tortillas Mexicanas
By Teresa Drake
Photographs Courtesy of Courtesy of Guey Tortillas Mexicanas
Looking for authentic tortillas, nachos and salsa? Missing your Tex-Mex fix? Well, look no further as Guey Tortillas Mexicanas is the answer to your gastronomical prayers. Meet Hector Munoz producer of “authentic” Mexican tortillas, taco shells, nachos, salsas and more. If his name sounds familiar, it should as he previously opened El Maix in 2015. Now, after a two-year absence, he has returned to offer authentic and improved techniques for great quality tortillas and with new products to offer to Cuenca.
To explain his two-year absence, Hector said that he had met a young lady after he had opened El Maix, and she came to work for him. They made plans and dreamed. Unfortunately, the relationship did not work out and they split. However, he had made a promise to help her open her own business. His grandfather once told him, “If you don’t keep your word in this world, you are not anyone.” So being a man of his word, he sold her the business rather than start one from scratch.
In February 2019, Hector returned to the U.S. and Houston, Texas with no money, a large debt to pay off and no job. This was a low period for Hector for he had lost it all. At that time, Hector made a promise to himself that he would return to the city he loved and called home by July of 2019. He vowed to begin again and do that which he loved. The culinary gods were watching over Hector, as by June 2019 he had not only paid off a $21,000 debt but was making his plans to return to Cuenca. This he did on September 26, 2019. But first, on September 14, 2019, Hector went to Mexico to find a tortilla machine that would produce identical product time after time and eliminate the arduous work of rolling by hand. The machine would assure consistency in size, thickness and quality. On September 27, 2019, Hector arrived in Quito and traveled via bus to Cuenca, and the machines came two months later via ship to Guayaquil.
Born in Houston, Texas, Hector, as a baby was sent to live with his grandmother in Jimenez, Mexico. There he learned to eat tortillas and how tortillas were made—not by choice but out of necessity. When asked what his favorite recipe was, he simply replied, “those made by hand.” The family was very poor and made their income working in the family tortilla factory owned and operated by his aunt. It was there he learned the proper way to grind the corn to retain the flavor that is always lost when made by machines and with preservatives and fillers added. At that time his grandparents instilled the philosophy Hector lives by: “It’s not what you have; it’s about what you’ve become.”
As he grew older, his mother wanted him to receive a U.S. education and become bilingual. Thus, Hector spent his time between the U.S. and Mexico. When school was not in session, he was in Mexico working in the family tortilla factory or raising goats. Much to his family’s dismay, in August 2001, at the age of 17 he enlisted in the army. His training was at Ft. Campbell and he was stationed in Iraq for just over 11 months. It was here that he realized just how precious life is. Upon his return home, he studied briefly in Texas, worked in the Middle East performing security jobs and for some time he worked in Williston, North Dakota working at an oil refinery. It was there that he decided that he did not wish to work like a mule for the rest of his life. Being very concerned about the environment and not wanting to see it destroyed, he felt guilty about the destruction incurred while drilling for oil.
Hector made the decision to return to Texas where he began to save his money and focus on what he wanted to do next. He knew that he did not want to live in the U.S., so he wrote down 10 names of different countries on pieces of paper. Every other day he would pull out a piece of paper, research it, and if it did not meet certain criteria, he would toss the name and begin again. The criteria he used was that it could not be hot and humid, did not have many bugs, use the U.S. dollar and be safe. The winner was Cuenca and he arrived in Ecuador in 2015.
During his time in Texas, Hector poured through his grandmother’s recipes and wondered why they did not produce the same in Cuenca as they did in Jimenez. These were recipes he grew up with and of which he was familiar, so why weren’t they coming out the same? It was his aunt who provided the answer…. This answer, plus a few secret ingredients, which he will not disclose, is what makes the tortillas and chips at Guey Tortillas Mexicanas so delicious. What makes his tortillas, nachos and salsas different is the way they are made, resulting in better quality and taste. There are no fillers or preservatives and they fresh every day, not stored in a warehouse.
The corn is first soaked in limestone and then boiled. Once the corn has cooked, it is thoroughly rinsed to remove all traces of the limestone and any corn hulls or unwanted material. The corn is ground with volcanic rock grinders, which prevent the delicate corn oils and flavor from being destroyed. After the corn has cooked and is ground into dough, it is cooled and mixed and then put onto the tortilla machine. It is there that the tortilla’s are cut consistently to various sizes and dropped onto a heated conveyor belt where they are cooked and inspected for quality. If one does not pass inspection, it is recycled to be made again. Those tortillas that are designated to become nachos, taco shells or taco bowls, are cut to a specific size and shape and are fried.
To ensure the Tex-Mex authenticity of his products, Hector has secret weapons from Mexico here in Cuenca: family and friends from back home. They told him that they wanted to work and advise him in developing his dream and in promoting authentic Tex-Mex products. It is a working relationship that has resulted in some delicious products.
So why Guey (pronounced way) instead of Toro or The Bull? Hector said that Guey is Mexican slang for friend. When people see Guey, they immediately say, “Oh, you must be from Mexico.” He uses the bull as a logo to catch the attention of children. That cute bull logo is on the side of his “toy” truck that can be seen in and around the area. Hector told of a young boy in El Centro who saw the truck and told his mother he wanted that for Christmas. His mother told him that it wasn’t a toy, to which the young lad replied, “Well it looks like a toy!”
You can place your order by calling Guey Tortilla Mexicanas, emailing your order or placing it via Facebook. They will be offering tortillas, taco shells, tostadas, bowl crunch, green salsa, salsa ranchera, cheese salsa and blue corn tortillas. At this time, no alcohol is served, but that could be a possibility in the future. Soon, you can enjoy delicious ice cold Tamarindo, Mexican Horchata and Jamaica.
You can currently purchase taco shells, tortillas and such at Guey Tortilla Mexicanas’ store or you can order by phone or email.
Guey Tortillas Mexicanas’ authentic Tex-Mex has arrived in Cuenca and I can attest that it is muy delicioso!
*** Win a Free Bluetooth Headset ***
Look for Hector’s Truck
Look for Hector’s truck. Get it to stop, have your picture taken by the truck, and share the picture with FB and Guey Tortillas Mexicanas website. You will win a free Bluetooth Headset. Hector also has an event taking place at his location: If you purchase $25-$50 in product, you get a free headset. Hurry in today!