Northgate González Markets, the Southern California supermarket chain, is famous for its prepared foods — tacos, menudo and freshly made guacamole. But the tortillas are the star of the show. And now, for the first time in 180-degree virtual reality (you’ll need a VR-capable headset to have the full experience), you can enter the tortillería of a Northgate to watch them being made from scratch.
The beloved chain was founded in Anaheim in 1980 by Miguel González Jiménez and now has dozens of locations. The La Habra store, where this video was shot, features a dedicated area for making tortillas (tortillería) and bread (panadería) and offers fresh ceviches, Mexican cheeses and cremas; there’s also an expansive salsa bar.
The tortilla-making process begins in a silo outside the store, which holds about 25,000 pounds of corn. To make a batch, about 1,000 pounds of the corn shoot through a tube into a large tank, where it begins the nixtamalization process, cooking and softening the corn in a mixture of lime and water. The soaked corn is put into a grinder, where it’s pulverized with volcanic rock imported from Mexico. The ground corn then goes into a mixer, after which the masa is fed into a custom-made tortilla oven that can turn out 45,000 tortillas per day.
Tortillas are sorted by hand and packaged, and sold directly in stores. A fresh tortilla right out of the oven, sprinkled with just a little bit of salt, is one of life’s simple joys.