A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 02, 2007
Tostada (Tostado)

“Tostada” (or the less-used “tostado”) is simply Spanish for “toasted.” By the 1930s, tostadas (fried tortillas) were advertised as “original Mexican corn chips,” somewhat like the trademarked Texas corn chip snack of Fritos.
Also in the 1930s, Mexican tostadas began to be piled with toppings such as beans, shredded lettuce, and cheese (and sometimes meat). The term “tostada” as used today can mean either “fried tortilla chips” or the restaurant dish with all the toppings.
The El Charro restaurant (since 1922) in Tucson, AZ, serves a “tostada grande” (Tostada de Tucson) that resembles a “Mexican pizza” in all but the name. Tucson is the unofficial home of the “tostada grande” (or “tortilla grande”).
Wikipedia: Tostada
Tostada is a Spanish word translating to “toasted” in English and, in Latin American cuisine, refers to a flat tortilla that is toasted or deep fried. It also refers to the finished dish using a tostada. Corn tortillas are used more than ones made of wheat flour for this purpose.
A tostada is often served as an appetizer typically topped with a thin layer of refried black bean paste (frijoles refritos), chicken or beef strips or other kinds of animal products. These are usually topped with thinly chopped lettuce strips, sour cream, chopped onion and salsa. As a general rule, due to the flat construction of the tostada, the main topping (i.e. bean paste or meat) must be sticky or pasty enough to stay on the tostada. This helps prevent the other toppings or garnishes from falling off while it’s being eaten.
In addition to items typically used as taco fillings, tostadas are popular topped with seafood, such as tuna, shrimp, and ceviche. A tostada vegetariana is only topped with vegetables.
In Tex-Mex cuisine, tostadas are often referred to as tortilla chips and are also served as an appetizer or meal, without toppings, but with sauce or salsa for dipping.
In Cuban Cuisine, tostada refers to Cuban bread, cut lengthwise, buttered, and pressed. Typically tostada is served as a breakfast food and can be dipped in cafe con leche.
In Spain, it can mean a slice of toasted bread or a French toast, typical of Easter, consisting in milk-soaked bread, battered in egg and fried.
In Colombia, tostada refers to a green, unripe plantain which has been cut into sections, fried, flattened, fried again, and salted. These are also known as tostones in other parts of Latin America.
The Free Dictionary
tos·ta·da (t-städ) or tos·ta·do (-d)
n. pl. tos·ta·das or tos·ta·dos
A tortilla or tortilla chip deep-fried until crisp.
[American Spanish, from Spanish, feminine past participle of tostar, to toast, from Vulgar Latin *tostre; see toast.]
Merriam-Webster Online
Main Entry:
also tos·ta·do \-(ˌ)dō\
Mexican Spanish tostada, from Spanish, feminine of tostado, past participle of tostar to toast, roast, from Late Latin tostare — more at toast
: a tortilla fried in deep fat  
(Oxford English Dictionary)
tostada, tostado
[a. Sp., pa. pple. of tostar to toast.] 
A deep-fried cornmeal pancake topped with a seasoned mixture of beans, mincemeat, and vegetables.
1945 E. FERGUSSON Mexican Cookbk. (ed. 2) p. v, Mexican food has, even since the ‘American Occupation’, been a part of the Southwestern diet… In every Southwestern town tostados are served with cocktails.
1958 McCall’s Mag. Aug. 9/2 The tortilla is the basis of many famous Mexican dishes: Enchiladas, Tacos, Tostadas.
1972 Times 6 May 12/7 Wait for the crunch of tostadosfor the next culinary invasion..will be Mexican.
1975 ‘S. MARLOWE’ Cawthorn Journals xxiv. 235 Maruja fed tostadas into the hot splattering oil.
Google Books
Guatemala: The Land of the Quetzal
by William Tufts Brigham
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Pg. 86:
A Boston boy who has a fine coffee estate in the neighborhood came in as we were at dinner and initiated us into the mystery of tortillas tostadas. Certainly by toasting, the tough, clammy, cold tortilla is made even better than new.
3 March 1895, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), “On Matanzas Island,” part 3, pg. 32:
It can be varied by caldo con gallina (with bits of chicken in it), con pan tostado (with toast), or caldo compuesto (made thick with onions, carrots, seeds, etc.),...
3 October 1898, Newark (OH) Daily Advocate, “What to Eat in Manila,” pg. 7, col. 5:
Bread, too, is not eaten so much as toast, and the foreigner almost always insists on getting his “pan tostada” in order that any lurking microbes which the bread may have absorbed during the process of manufacture in the little Chinese bakery may be destroyed.
13 March 1932, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, pg. 10, col. 6 ad:
Full course Spanish Dinner which includes Enchiladas, Tamales, Spanish Rice, Chili con Carne, Shredded Lettuce, Tostados, Frozen Pineapple, Coffee.
The above dinner with Tortillas
Savoy Coffee Shop
2 October 1932, Dallas (TX) Morning News, section 1, pg. 8:
On the Mexican side Nogales is as Mexican as a tortilla. Sleepy little streets with tostada peddlers cooking on tin cans in the gutters and the dulce sellers walking down the sidewalks with their tables carried on their heads. 
Google Books
Your Mexican Holiday: A Modern Guide
by Anita Brenner
New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Pg. 223:
tostadas, flat toasted fried tortillas, with chicken, beans, ... 
Google Books
Mexican Journey: An Intimate Guide to Mexico
by Edith Mackie and Sheldon Dick
New York, NY: Dodge Publishing Company
Pg. 16:
Tostadas call for tortillas fried and covered with frijol paste, shredded meat,... 
Cooking…South of the Rio Grande
by George Luther Nelson
San Antonio, TX: The Nolan Printing Company
Pg. 28:
Use the Tortilla dough making tortillas exactly as directed in previous recipe. Instead of baking over a griddle pan, the raw tortilla is fried in deep fat until it fluffs up. After it is a golden brown and is puffed up as much as it will go, fold carefully in half and fry some more until it is very crisp. Remove from fat and drain on heavy brown paper.
These tostados may be filled with “Guacamole,” Melted Cheese, “Frijoles Refritos” or Chicken. Top with very finely shredded lettuce.
8 November 1935, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 8, col. 1:
Tortillas Tostado
(Native Mexican Bread Toasted)
24 December 1935, Port Arthur (TX) News, “Frijoles And Spuds Most Favorite Dishes In Cow Land Even On Dec. 25” (Marfa, TX), pg. 15, col. 4:
Jerked beef, turkey if the rancher grows his own—otherwise plover, ducks or quail—venison, wild algerita berry jelly, spiced pickle pieces, pies, fruit cakes, onions, sourdough biscuits, hot tortillas (made of corn flour and when toasted becomes “tostados” for serving much in the same manner as potato chips) and always frijoles and spuds.
15 May 1936, Dothan (AL) Eagle, pg. 6, col. 1:
When fried, the tortilla becomes a tostado. 
17 December 1936, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, pg. 12, col. 4 ad:
El Centro Cafe
Special Plate, consists of Enchiladas, Tamales,Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, Chile Con Carne, Chile Sauce, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pineapple, Tostadas, Butter and Coffee. 50 cents.
19 February 1937, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 23, col. 3 ad:
Original Mexican Corn Chip
New, Tasty
Large tin…10c
30 April 1937, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg.  11 ad:
TOSTADAS 8 oz. Can…14c
12 December 1937, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Food and Drink in Mexico,” section 5, pg. 4:
It may begin with soup and sliced avacados, served with olive oil and vinegar, and go on through gorditos migados, a kind of sausage; chalupas, tortillas with cheese, beans, shredded chicken and lettuce in white sauce; enchiladas, a dish familiar to Americans; tamales, another recognizable article of food; tostadas of either chicken or other meat; pavo con mole, turkey with the popular mole sauce compounded of fourteen spices and herbs; or cold meats.
30 March 1939, Galveston (TX) Daily News,  cook book section, pg. 7, col. 5:
Fry tortillas flat. Spread with mashed frijole mixture, sprinkle with grated American or parmesan cheese. Heat briefly in hot oven. Serve with chili gravy.
20 September 1942, New York (NY) Times, pg. D11:
Tostadas are another variation of the tortilla theme. In this case they’re fried flat, drained on wrapping paper, and piled high with meat, vegetables in season, tomato paste, lettuce shreds, onion rings, and sometimes grated melted cheese. It’s the best open sandwich that has ever been invented, and two are guaranteed to fill you.
18 July 1943, Lincoln (NE) Sunday Journal and Star, pg. 3C, col. 1:
When fried crisp the “tortilla” is “tostada” and is served with salads. If spread with sharp cheese, the tostada becomes a cocktail specialty. 
6 October 1945, Port Arthur (TX) News, pg. 3, col. 4 ad:
Taco, Tostado, Enchilada, Mexican Rice, Frijoles, Refritos and En Salada
19 January 1947, Port Arthur (TX) News, entertainment, pg. 8, col. 1 ad:
Mexican Plate Lunch
Consists of One Taco, One Tostada, Arroz, One Enchilada and Frijoles Refritos
30 November 1947, Corpus Christi (TX) Caller-Times, pg. 4D, col. 1:
The “Taxco Special”, a full Mexican dinner, has been added to the menu at Taxco Mexican Garden, 1120 Agnes (just off South Staples).
The meal consists of Guzman tostada, avocado salad, enchilada, tamale, chili gravy, beans, rice and coffee or tea, C. Y. Guzman, owner of the restaurant, announced. 
26 December 1949, Dallas (TX) Morning News, part 1, pg. 7:
Serve with fritos or tostadas (fried tortillas) as a dip.
15 May 1952, Waukesha (WI) Daily Freeman, pg. 5, cols. 1-3:
For the tostadas, the tortillas are fried and drained to make them crisp and delectable—tasting something like the commercial Fritos that are on the market. They are topped with a combination of lettuce, mashed pinto beans, head cheese and hot sauce—to make a Dagwood-like concoction. They are a favorite meal that combines the bread, vegetable and salad all in one dish.
1/2 dozen tortillas
1/2 head lettuce
1 cup of drained, mashed beans
head cheese
hot sauce
Fry each tortilla individually and drain on brown paper. Spread each tortilla with beans. Sprinkle with lettuce and top with two squares of head cheese and 1 tablespoon hot sauce.
7 September 1953, Dallas (TX) Morning News, part II, pg. 6L
We borrowed the idea from the way Mexican tostados are traditionally topped with shredded lettuce. (A tostado, like the tamale, is a tortilla—but a tortilla that is fried crisp in deep fat and left flat to hold its sauce and lettuce topping.)
31 December 1953, New York (NY) Times, pg. 12:
Tostados are made with fried tortillas covered with shredded meat or beans, cheese, lettuce and sauce.
10 October 1957, New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM), pg. 23, col. 2:
3/4 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil or other fat
8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons instant minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon whole oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons hot olive or salad oil
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Finely shredded lettuce
Brown beef in olive oil or other fat. Add the next 7 ingredients and simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Fry tortillas in hot olive or salad oil until golden and crisp. Place one tortilla on each serving plate. Spoon meat sauce over each. Sprinkle with cheese and top with finely shredded lettuce.
5 September 1968, Odessa (TX) American, pg. 17A, col. 4 ad:
Mexican beans, crisp lettuce, cheddar cheese on a crisp corn tortilla.
(Taco Bell—ed.) 
2 May 1976, Long Beach (CA) Independent Press-Telegram, pg. L/S9, col. 2:
The menu has…and the tostada grande, $18.5, a huge salad-like creation made with lettuce, beans and cheese.
27 July 1976, Yuma (AZ) Daily Sun, pg. 39 ad:
(Latin Quarter—ed.)
New York Times
On the Trail of the Tortilla: All Tracks Lead to Tucson
Published: August 15, 1990
Tucson is the home of the tortilla grande, or Mexican pizza, or tostada grande. Its simplicity and richness are enduring qualities.
It is an 18-inch flour tortilla, available only here in that size; it is made with so much lard it is almost translucent. Tostada is a specific term meaning toasted tortilla.
Originally, the tostada was buttered and baked, but now it’s also sprinkled with cheese. Toppings were added: green chilies, like jalapenos; chorizo, the spicy Mexican sausage; and beans, guacamole or carne seca.
What impresses most outlanders is the tostada grande’s crispness. The secret is to toast it first, then top it with cheese and bake until the cheese bubbles. One is easily enough for dinner. 
Google Books
The all-new, updated, and expanded edition
by Jane Stern and Michael Stern
New York, NY: HarperPerennial
Pg. 10:
For example: “Mexican pizza,” which is a frequently served appetizer in this part of the world, is listed on the El Charro menu simply as a tostada.
The Tex-Mex Cookbook
by Robb Walsh
New York, NY: Broadway Books
Pg. 6:
The word means “toasted.” Tostadas are generally fried tortilla quarters in Mexico. In Tex-Mex, tostadas are more often fried tortilla chips, or whole fried tortillas topped like tacos.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, December 02, 2007 • Permalink

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