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The Word “Quesadilla” Doesn’t Come from Nahuatl

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While in a cooking class in Mexico, Travis from Orlando, Florida, was told by the instructor that the word quesadilla comes a supposed Nahuatl word, quesaditzen. That’s not the case, although many other food words derive from that indigenous language of Mexico, including chili, chipotle, avocado, chocolate, cocoa, tomato, tamales, and mole. For one thing, there’s no D used in Nahuatl, and although there is an old word in Nahuatl that means “folded tortilla,” it sounds nothing like quesadilla. In 15th century Spain, quesadas were “sweet cheese cakes,” deriving from queso, or “cheese,” and quesadilla came to denote a kind of cheese empanada — literally “a little thing made with cheese.” But if you want to order one with cheese in Mexico City, be sure you specify your wishes, because a quesadilla there doesn’t necessarily contain any cheese. This is part of a complete episode.

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