Taquitos / Flautas
What are taquitos?
Taquitos (Spanish spelling taquitos, pronounced ‘taa-KIE-tos’) and flautas (Spanish spelling flautas, pronounced ‘FLAUW-tas’) are rolled and deep-fried tortillas, usually with a meat filling. They are served with typical tex-mex sauces and toppings, such as guacamole, salsa and/or sour cream.
Taquito means ‘small taco’ while flauta means ‘whistle’ or ‘flute’. Taquitos were first described as a dish in a book from 1929 and sold in Mexican restaurants in southern California in the 1930s. The dish belongs in the cal-mex kitchen, the Californian version of the more well known tex-mex kitchen. These two fusion kitchens were created at the beginning of the twentieth century by Americans of Mexican decent in the southern states of the country.
The differences between taquitos and flautas depends on where and who you ask. For some Mexicans the difference is in the length – taquitos are shorter – or the shape, flautas are rounder and taquitos flatter. Usually, however, it is the kind of tortilla that makes the difference: taquitos are made with corn tortillas whereas flautas are usually made with wheat tortillas. To make everything even more complicated, the terms are often used interchangeably. Moreover, when Americans talk about taquitos, they sometimes literally mean ‘small tacos’ (not rolled up and not deep-fried)! Are you still following this?
Did you know?
To say that the Americans love ‘their’ taquitos is something of an understatement. They even celebrate with an annual national taquito day, on 4th October.
How to make taquitos?
Taquitos and flautas are often prepared with a filling of minced or fried chicken and salsa. The meat is first roasted or fried with onion, garlic, typical Mexican spices such as cumin and coriander and possibly a chilli pepper. Tomato salsa is stirred into this to make a smooth filling.
The filling is scooped onto tortillas, sprinkled with cheese and rolled up. The rolls are fixed with a wooden skewer and then fried golden brown. The crunchy rolls are served on a bed of iceberg lettuce, sometimes with extra vegetables such as avocado or tomato, and guacamole, sour cream and/or extra salsa on the side.
How to eat
Small taquitos and flautas can be eaten with your fingers. Dip them in the accompanying sauce and take a bite. You can eat larger taquitos like this but it can end up getting very messy, so make sure you have plenty of napkins handy.
Tacos have a taste and texture that are very similar to taquitos and flautas. If you prefer your food not to be fried, enchiladas are a similar dish that is baked in the oven. In Turkey people also eat rolled snacks, namely the cigar-shaped borek.