A “torta” is a Mexican sandwich, noted for its crusty white sandwich roll and overstuffed ingredients. New Orleans calls its version of a stuffed sandwich a “po’boy sandwich” ("poor boy sandwich").
In some parts of Texas and elsewhere in the United States (where the “po’ boy” is familiar, but the “torta” is not), a torta is called a “Mexican po’boy” or “Mexican poor boy.”
The long list of the names of sandwiches served on long rolls includes blimpie, bomber, Cuban (medianoche), Dagwood, garibaldi, gondola, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian, jawbreaker, muffuletta, peacemaker (La Mediatrice), pilgrim, pistolette, po’ boy (poor boy), rocket, skyscraper, spiedie, spucky (spuckie, spukie), submarine (sub), torpedo, wedge and zeppelin (zep).
A torta is a Mexican sandwich, served on an oblong 6-8 inch firm, crusty white sandwich roll, called a bolillo, telera or birote. Tortas can be served hot or cold. Common ingredients may include, but are not limited to:
. Al pastor: (marinated pork)
. Alambre: (steak, bacon, onion, pepper and cheese)
. Carne asada: (marinated steak)
. Carne deshebrada: (shredded beef)
. Carnitas: (fried tender pork)
. Chile relleno: (white cheese-stuffed Anaheim or poblano green pepper fried in egg batter)
. Choriqueso: (Chorizo with cheese)
. Cochinita pibil: (pork loin in orange sauce)
. Camaron: shrimp
. Huevo con salchicha: (sausage and scrambled egg)
. Jamón: Ham
. Lengua: beef tongue
. Milanesa: (breaded steak)
. Pescado: fried fish
. Pechuga de pavo: turkey breast
Some styles include:
. Cubana: Inspired by the popular Cuban sandwich. Typically includes a wide variety of ingredients: ham, white cheese, scrambled eggs, sausage, milanesa and chipotle.
. Torta ahogada: a sandwich filled with carnitas and submerged in sauce. Very popular in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
Garnishes such as avocado, sour cream, lettuce, jalapeño, tomato, and cheese feature in various incarnations of the sandwich. The dish is available throughout Mexico, the American Southwest, and anywhere with a large number of Mexican immigrants. This dish should not to be confused with a Spanish egg torta, a popular omelette-like dish.
The television character El Chavo is frequently heard asking or begging for “tortas de jamón” (ham sandwiches).
The word ‘torta’ means different things in different countries and even different regions within those countries. For example, ‘torta’ as a sandwich is understood throughout Mexico, yet in Mexico City torta can also refer to a small fried mixture of scrambled eggs, sauce and beef, mashed potato or broccoli. In most South American countries, ‘torta’ means a sweet cake, such as a wedding or birthday cake. In the Philippines, ‘torta’ refers to a kind of omelette made with eggs, ground meat and sometimes minced onion and potato.
Tepatitlan (Houston, TX)
MEXICAN POBOY $3.99
YOUR CHOICE OF MEAT, SERVED WITH BEANS, LETTUCE< TOMATO AND GUACAMOLE
16 October 1962, Derrick Cook Book (Oil City, PA), section 2, pg. 34, col. 5:
THE MEXICAN “POOR BOY” SANDWICH
2 tablespoons fat, 1/2 cup onion chopped, 1/2 stalk celery, minced, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 pound ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/3 cup tomato paste, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup cooked rice, 3/4 teaspoon celery seed, 1/4 teaspoon caraway seed, 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons chili powder. Melt fat. Saute chopped onion, celery and garlic in hot fat. Add beef, salt and pepper and brown together. Add tomato paste and water. Bring to boil and add cooked rice, celery seed, caraway seed, paprika and chili powder. Cook until thick. Put in wiener buns.
Mrs. Bob Rumburd, 582 Plummer St.
9 December 1965, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 2A, col. 7 ad:
MEXICAN POOR BOY
A Real Dinner In A Hot Roll
22 September 1966, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 2A, col. 5 ad:
MEXICAN POOR BOY
DINNER IN BUN 55c
6 December 1974, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 8B ad:
MEXICAN PO BOY...$1.00
6 October 1995, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Cajun, All Mexed Up” by Patricia Rodriguez, pg. 12:
Fusion cuisine is the darling of foodies these days, resulting in such weird-sounding combinations as Italian/Thai/Afghan or French/Romanian/Spanish. In Fort Worth, of course, we do things our own way, which means fusion of, oh, anything and Tex-Mex. For example, mix Cajun and Mexican, and you get a sandwich like the Mexican poor boy at Shrimper’s, a bright cantina newly opened in the old Robert’s space on University Drive north of Seventh Street. Their poor boy…
Los Angeles Area - CHOW
I think of a torta as a Mexican po-boy and I’m not used to that much richness and I usually don’t deserve it.
Hershey Bomar Jun 30, 2004 02:14AM
The Great St. Louis Eats Book
By Joe Pollack and Ann Lemons Pollack
Published by Virginia Publishing
Pg. 104 (Lily’s Mexican Restaurant):
We often succumb to a torta, like a Mexican poor boy, particularly the one with crumbled chorizo, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on a sort of Italian torpedo roll.
California - CHOW
Hands down, my favorite thing at La Cabana is… drumroll… the Carnitas Torta! Think of it as a mexican poorboy sandwich. You could even order it with shrimp if you want. It’s a VERY fresh and fluffy paneria roll slathered in guacamole, mustard, jalapenos, lettuce, tomatoes, and the topping off your choice. The carnitas is of course my topping of choice.
dubious Aug 24, 2006 10:55PM
“Fajita" Torta with Mexican Crema, Avocados, and Homemade Roasted Tomato Salsa (Mexican Po-Boy)
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2007
Show: The Essence of Emeril
Episode: Taste of Mexico
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
6 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
About 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds flank steak (or skirt steak), trimmed of surface fat and silver skin, thinly sliced against the grain
Roasted Tomato Salsa, for serving, recipe follows
6 (6-inch) soft hoagie rolls, such as potato rolls, brioche, or Cuban rolls
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
Sliced jalapenos, to taste
Mayonnaise, for bread, to taste
Cilantro leaves, for garnishing
Lime wedges, for serving (...)