Our Community - Tudy & Gualberto Nuñez - "Providing a taste of tradition"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 3            January 30, 2003

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Tudy & Gualberto Nuñez

When it comes to indulging in some of the country's most satisfying cuisine, San Pedro is certainly one of the places to be. With more and more people coming to "La Isla Bonita" to share their own culinary secrets, the island has become rich in the food it offers to both the residents and visitors. Although our dishes now comprise different ingredients and tastes, something that has not changed on the dinner table of many residents of San Pedro are the wonderful corn tortillas produced on this island. This week The San Pedro Sun is pleased to focus its attention on a husband and wife team who have made a living producing this mouthwatering staple - Gualberto and Tudy Nuñez.

    Gualberto "Don Wally" Nuñez was born and raised in San Pedro. A fisherman for many years, Don Wally married Tudy Marin, a well-known cake decorator and seamstress also from San Pedro, on January 30th, 1954. Mr. and Mrs. Nuñez's marriage was blessed with five children: Annie Nuñez, Cruzita Salazar, Wally, Toni and Meraldo.

    When Don Wally was 45 years old he was given the opportunity to purchase a tortilla factory from the late Daddy Paz. With the full support of his wife and children, Don Wally made a thriving business out of this enterprise he named Tortilleria El Patio. The husband and wife team worked diligently seven-days-a-week to supply the villagers with hot corn tortillas. Their work began by cooking the corn the day before and rising out of bed as early as 4:00 a.m. the next day when Don Wally would wash the corn by hand. The corn was then ground in the "molino" to produce the "masa". This was then passed through the tortilla machine, producing 100% hot corn tortillas. Villagers were able to purchase this staple food for daily consumption by six o'clock every morning. But the work did not fall solely to the hands of Don Wally, Mrs. Tudy also did her share of labor, as did the children. More than a tortilla factory, Tortilleria El Patio was a social gathering place where island housewives would discuss their plans for the day and husbands (who were also sent to buy) would boast about their latest catch. Children also enjoyed going to Don Wally to buy tortillas as this charming gentleman would give the children a hot tortilla to eat during their walk home. This always made the children feel very special and they would brag about it when they arrived. 

    Four and a half years ago, after working in the tortilleria factory for 25 years, Don Wally was forced to retire from this job he enjoyed so much but the production of tortillas did not end there. Under the able supervision of Mrs. Tudy the work continued, though, assisted by two other employees.

    Even now, tortillas remain one of the staple food in the houses of most San Pedro residents and are also served as a side order for many local dishes at restaurants.

    The legacy of Don Wally Nuñez lives with the Tortilleria El Patio and the great product his wife continues to provide. Without a doubt, a lot of hard work and dedication goes into making traditional corn tortillas, a business that truly adds flavor to the local meals served in "Our Community."

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