MAiiZ Nixtamal Best Producer & Best Latin Restaurant 2022 – Yam Magazine
MAiiZ Nixtamal Tortillas are made from certified organic corn grown in Armstrong, BC and lab-tested to be gluten free. Chef Israel Alvarez Molina’s technique, inspired in the traditional Mesoamerican Nixtamalization process is more than just authentic, providing taste and structure. MAiiZ Nixtamal Tortillas have flavour, aroma, texture and elasticity. When eating a Nixtamal Taco you don’t just taste the corn, you taste the process.
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PATIO DINING! Enjoy your take-out and watch the world go by. First come first served. Reservations accepted.
Yam Magazine Best Latin Restaurant 2022
MAiiZ Nixtamal is a small tortilleria with just a few tables for dine in, plus a takeout menu of Mexican meal components and complete dinners. It’s authentic Mexican food from chef Israel Álvarez Molina, whether you get his nixtamalized corn masa in a stack of handmade corn tortillas, quesadillas or banana-leaf-wrapped tamales, or take home a meal kit of chicken tinga, chorizo or beef barbacoa from Haus Sausage and Natural Pastures cheese curds.
Yam Magazine Best Producer 2022
The Island’s farmers, fishers and food producers are vital to the restaurant industry, providing the quality local ingredients that inspire their menus. And MAiiZ Nixtamal has everything that defines a great food producer — passion, attention to detail, sustainable food sourcing and a commitment to community.
In just over two years, chef Israel Álvarez Molina has taken his passion for authentic Mexican food from a small pop-up to a downtown tortilleria, making stone-ground masa and corn tortillas, using the ancient process of nixtamalization.
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- “Se siente el sabor de Mexico! I can taste the flavour of Mexico” @gtcanni
- “I love how the tortillas held together perfectly without breaking or getting soggy.” @propitiouspig
Carrying Retailers (call ahead to confirm)
- MAiiZ at 540 Fisgard St (Open Tuesday to Sunday) – see map
- Beauregard Cafe & Provisions
- Charelli’s Cheese Shop & Delicatessen
- Coco’s Provisions
- Cold Comfort Canteen
- Community Farm Store (Duncan)
- Country Grocer (Royal Oak & Esquimalt)
- Fairway Markets (all locations)
- Farm and Field Butcher
- For Good Measure James Bay
- Great Greens Farm Market
- Lifestyle Markets
- Michell’s Farm Market
- Mother Nature’s Market & Deli
- Mt Doug Market
- Neighbourly Store
- Niche Grocerant
- Old Farm Market (Oak Bay)
- Peppers Foods
- Pomme Natural Markets Nanaimo
- Rock Bay Market
- The Local General Store
- The Market Garden
- The Root Cellar
- Urban Grocer
- more …
What exactly is Nixtamalization?
- Corn holds the memory of culture, tradition, indigenous practices and history for many in Mexico. Nixtamalization, masa, fresh cooked tortillas; these textures and smells are ingrained within the best culinary experiences and come from a place of memory and authenticity.
- Nixtamalization is the process of chemically transforming dried corn kernels into a dough which is then used in a wide variety of Mexican dishes.
- Dried corn kernels is boiled in an alkaline solution using pickling lime (also known as slaked lime or calcium hydroxide) and then left to soak overnight. When the corn is drained and rinsed some of the outer membrane layer is loosened and rubbed off. Corn that has gone through this process is now called nixtamal, or in some cultures, hominy.
- The wet nixtamal is then ground to a dough using a specialized mill. The result is a silky, slightly elastic fresh “masa” dough that squiggles out the grinder. The masa is shaped into small balls called testalitos and pressed to create fragrant, soft, flavourful tortillas with a unique smell of Mexico!
How does this change the corn?
- The nixtamalization process not only transforms corn structurally, but also nutritionally. Corn on its own is seen as a low source of nutrition, often associated with pellagra, a disease caused by vitamin B3 deficiency common to impoverished communities where the process of nixtamalization was not introduced with corn.
- This issue can be traced back to the colonization of the Americas when corn was taken by Europeans to grow as a crop around the globe, but the nixtamalization process was not. This resulted in widespread disease and malnutrition. Through the process of nixtamalization the calcium in corn is increased as is the quality of protein absorbed by the body. Additionally, phytic acid is reduced making it easier for the body to absorb important minerals unlocked by the alkaline solution used during the nixtamalization process.
What is the cultural importance?
- “When you are an immigrant you go through a lot of stages to find an identity in your new home. The part of my life that I could not find was my diet. I could adapt to a different climate, harsh weather, assimilate into the culture and learn a new language, but deep inside of me nixtamal was missing. There is so much history and culture behind this process which is the foundation of Mexican Cuisine. The aroma, texture, flavour and feeling of a fresh Nixtamal Tortilla doesn’t compare to anything else, it’s like freshly brewed coffee when you’ve had instant coffee all your life. This transformative experience is something that everyone deserves.