A huitlacoche (corn smut) quesadilla
|Place of origin||Mexico|
|Main ingredient(s)||Tortillas, cheese, meat, refried beans, avocado or other vegetables|
A quesadilla (pron.: //, Spanish: [kesaˈðiʎa], [kesaˈðiʝa]) is a flour tortilla or a corn tortilla filled with a savory mixture containing cheese, other ingredients, and/or vegetables, (often) then folded in half to form a half-moon shape. This dish originated in Mexico, and the name is derived from tortilla and the Spanish word for cheese queso.
The specific origin for the quesadilla was in colonial Mexico. The quesadilla as a food changed and evolved over many years as people experimented with different variations of it.
A quesadilla is made with a tortilla and is filled primarily with cheese. Other ingredients, such as pork, ham, avocado, or other vegetables may be added. The filled tortilla is then warmed until the cheese is melted. Some variations toast or even fry the quesadilla. Once the quesadilla is cooked it is ready to eat. Sometimes salsa is added. In the USA the term quesadilla usually refers to what in Mexico is called sincronizada de queso and it is usually cut into slices or wedges. In Mexico the sincronizada is usually translated in menus as quesadilla so tourists would know what it is.
Most quesadillas are prepared by just folding and filling a tortilla, but other variations have tortillas specially made for filling. The type of tortilla varies by region. In most of Mexico, Central and South America, corn tortillas are traditionally preferred. In northern regions of Mexico, along the United States border and across the USA, quesadillas are most commonly prepared with flour tortillas. Another variation is deep fried; its preparation resembles more of a pastry than a tortilla. Quesadillas from the San Luis Potosí region are not quesadillas in the traditional sense, but rather are enchiladas potosinas. Red or occasionally green salsa is added to the flour, which makes the tortilla red or green. In making these enchiladas, cheese is added, and the tortilla is then folded in half and fried.
Mexican quesadilla 
In central and southern regions of Mexico, a quesadilla is a flat circle of cooked corn masa, called a tortilla, warmed to soften it enough to be folded in half, and then filled. They are typically filled with Oaxaca cheese (queso Oaxaca). Oaxaca cheese is a stringy (pasta filata) cheese that comes from Mexico. The quesadilla is then cooked on a comal until the cheese has completely melted. They are usually cooked without the addition of any oil. Often the quesadillas are served with green or red salsa, chopped onion, guacamole, and sour cream. While Oaxaca (or string) cheese is the most common filling, other ingredients are also used in addition to or even substituting cheese. These can include cooked vegetables, such as potatoes with chorizo, squash blossoms, mushrooms, epazote, huitlacoche, and different types of cooked meat, such as chicharron, tinga made of chicken or beef, or cooked pork. In some places, quesadillas are also topped with other ingredients, in addition to the fillings they already have: avocado or guacamole, chopped onion, tomato, serrano chiles and parsley are the most common. Salsas may also be added as a topping.
Mexican quesadillas are traditionally cooked on a comal, which is also used to prepare tortillas. As a variation, the quesadillas can be fried in oil to make quesadillas fritas. The main difference is while the traditional ones are prepared just filling the partially cooked tortillas, then continue cooking until the cheese melts, the fried ones are prepared like a pastry, preparing the uncooked masa in small circles, then topping with the filling and finally folding the quesadilla to form the pastry. It is then immersed into hot oil until the exterior looks golden and crispy.
Other variations include the use of wheat flour tortillas instead, especially in northeastern Mexico. Wheat dough is most commonly used in place of corn masa. In this case, the flour tortilla is prepared, folded and filled with cheese, exactly as the corn.
Sometimes cheese and ham are sandwiched between two flour tortillas, then cut into wedges to serve what is commonly known as sincronizada (Spanish for "synchronized") in Mexico. Despite appearing almost the same as a quesadilla, it is considered a completely different dish. The sincronizada is frequently confused with quesadillas by tourists, because it is typically called a quesadilla in most Mexican restaurants outside of México.
American quesadilla 
The quesadilla is a regional favorite in the Southwest, United States where it is analogous to a 'grilled cheese sandwich'. It is prepared in a similar manner except for the inclusion of local ingredients and you can use turkey. A flour tortilla is heated on a griddle, then flipped and sprinkled with a grated, melting cheese (queso quesadilla), such as Monterey Jack, Cheddar cheese or Colby Jack. Once the cheese melts, other ingredients; such as shredded meat, peppers, onions or guacamole may be added, and it is then folded and served.
Another preparation involves cheese and other ingredients sandwiched between two flour tortillas, with the whole package grilled on an oiled griddle and flipped so both sides are cooked and the cheese is melted. This version is often cut into wedges to serve. A home appliance (quesadilla maker) is sold to produce this kind of quesadilla, although it does not use oil and cooks both sides at once. This type is similar to the Mexican sincronizada; but in the United States, they often also have fajita beef or chicken or other ingredients instead of ham.
There is a lot of regional variation to specific recipes throughout the Southwest.
Quesadillas have been adapted to many different styles. In the United States, many restaurants serve them as appetizers, after adding their own twist. Some variations are: goat cheese, black beans, spinach, zucchini, or tofu. Even dessert quesadillas are made, using ingredients such as chocolate, butterscotch, caramel, and different fruits.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Quesadilla|
- Herbst, Sharon Tyler. Food Lover's Companion Third edition, pg. 501
- Civitello, Linda. Cuisine and Culture: a history of food and people. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2004.
- Kiple, Kenneth F., and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas. The Cambridge World History of Food. 2 vols. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
- "Quesadilla | Define Quesadilla at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Lynne Olver. "Food Timeline-Mexican and TexMex food history". Foodtimeline.org. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "History of Quesadillas - cookingschoolsite". Sites.google.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Montanari, Massimo. The Culture of Food. Oxford, UK: 1994.
- Elkady, Doaa. "Quesadillas." Scholastic Choices. 23.5 (2008): 23.
- Feeney, Kelly. "Sand, Surf, and Quesadillas." New York Times. (2010): 8.
- Raichlen, Steven (1998). Salud y sazón: 200 deliciosas recetas de la cocina de mamá : todas bajas en grasa, sal y colesterol!. Rodale. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-87596-474-4. Retrieved 2011-03-18.(Spanish)
- SR. "Recipe - Delicious Chicken Quesadilla". Cooks.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Zaslavsky, Nancy. "30 Minutes." Vegetatrian Times. 338 (2006): 37-40.
- Shulman, Martha Rose. "Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadilla." New York Times. (2011): 1.
- Shulman, Martha Rose. "Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadilla." New York Times. (2011): 1.
Further reading 
- Gay, Kathlyn. Encyclopedia of North American Eating and Drinking Traditions, Customs, and Rituals. Santa Barbara, Ca: ABC-CLIO, 1996.