The Rich and Interesting History of Quesadillas

October 4, 2023

The quesadilla, a beloved Mexican dish, has a history rooted in the 16th century,
evolving from simple tortilla and cheese to various global adaptations.

The quesadilla is a humble yet versatile dish that has transcended borders, crossed
oceans and found its way into the hearts of food enthusiasts worldwide. Read on to learn more about the rich and interesting history of this traditional dish and tips for
preparing healthy quesadillas for the whole family!

The First Quesadillas
The Aztec people enjoyed the first quesadillas thousands of years ago! However,
these early dishes consisted of corn tortillas stuffed with pumpkin or squash. Cooked
in clay ovens, they were served as a dessert rather than the main course we see
The inception of savory quesadillas dates back to the colonial era, specifically in the
south-central regions and the state of Oaxaca, where cheese was an integral part of
many local dishes. Spanish settlers arriving in Mexico introduced the locals to filled
pastries made from wheat flour and eventually combined the Mexican palate with
Spanish influence to create the quesadilla.
Even after the colonial era, quesadillas remained a popular dish throughout the
country! The first savory quesadillas were very basic, consisting of wheat-flour
tortillas and Oaxaca cheese. Over the years, people experimented with this recipe by
adding different cheeses and cheese blends, beans, chicken, steak, fish, fresh
veggies, and more!

Popularity Soaring Throughout the US
So when exactly did quesadillas take off for US consumers? While there is no
definitive date, many attribute the rise of Mexican cuisine to the Tex-Mex boom in the
1970s. Mexican immigrants throughout Texas, New Mexico, and other Southwest
states began creating menus for US palates but with Mexican inspiration, helping
popularize nachos, enchiladas, and, of course, quesadillas.
Furthermore, the fast-food explosion of the 80s and 90s further increased the US’s
exposure to these foods. By the 2000s, quesadillas became a menu staple for
almost every casual restaurant, much like cheeseburgers or Caesar salads (invented
in Tijuana, Mexico!).

The Problem With Modern Quesadillas
Authentic quesadillas embrace simplicity and natural ingredients and are true to their
Mexican origin. The key ingredients—tortillas and cheese—should ideally be fresh
and organic, reflecting the essence of this traditional dish. Tortillas play a particularly
crucial role in the taste and texture of quesadillas. A fresh, quality flour tortilla lends a
delightful softness and elevates the overall flavor profile of the dish, creating a
harmonious blend that is quintessentially Mexican.

Regrettably, many tortilla products available in grocery stores today include
excessive additives. These extend the food’s shelf life, making it more convenient for
consumers. However, this convenience comes at a cost. Additives diminish the rich
taste of high-quality flour tortillas and undermine their health benefits. Therefore,
using tortillas made from only the essential ingredients is preferable to elevate your
authentic and delicious quesadillas.

Now that you know the rich and interesting history of quesadillas, you are ready to
make healthy and delicious meals for you and your family! With fresh and natural
ingredients, quesadillas make an excellent addition to any well-balanced diet.


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