On a sunny morning in Guadalupe Victoria, near the Guatemalan border in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, Hilda Pastor is washing corn in her backyard sink to make tortillas. It’s a daily ritual that starts the night before.

“I mix dried kernels, water and a spoonful of cal” – that’s calcium hydroxide or slaked lime, “and it soaks overnight,” says Pastor, a 48-year-old mother of three.

This tortilla-making process was invented by the Aztecs 600 years ago and is called “nixtamilizing.” It softens the corn and heightens its flavor and nutritional value.

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