A Miracle, in an Unlikely Place
Tortilla Heaven opens on national movie screens, March 16
Published on LatinoLA: March 8, 2007
God, Food, and the American Dream. A tiny town in New Mexico is turned upside down when the face of Jesus Christ appears upon a tortilla.
Welcome to Falf??rrias, New Mexico‘«™population 73. A tightly-knit community revolving around church, family, and fresh Mexican food ‘«Ű and not necessarily in that order.
Across the plaza from the church is the town‘«÷s only restaurant, called Tortilla Heaven. It‘«÷s owner and proprietor, Isidor Navarro, makes the very best food in all of New Mexico. But no one knows about it ‘«Ų except for the 72 other people who live in the town. Why? Because Falf??rrias is 3 miles from the highway, and the only thing linking them to the rest of humanity is, as they call it, a pinche dirt road. Which isn‘«÷t a good thing.
One Sunday, while the rest of town piously prays the Lord‘«÷s Mass, Isidor makes tortillas for the lunchtime crowd. But today he‘«÷s having trouble with the dough. He rolls it, slaps it, slams it; yet time and again one tortilla comes out wrong. ‘«£Jesus pinche Christ!‘«ō he curses, tossing it onto the comal (grill). What he doesn‘«÷t notice is that the tortilla begins to burn ‘«Ų in a very special way. And on it appears the face of the just maligned Jesus Christ.
It is undoubtedly a miracle. In the most unlikely of places.
Of course you can't keep a miracle secret. By next day the whole town crowds into Isidor's restaurant. And no one's there to eat. ‘«£Show us the miracle!,‘«ō ‘«£We want to see the Tortilla with the face of Jesus Christ!‘«ō Suddenly, Isidor has a revelation: he can make a fortune! He charges them 3 bucks a head; $1 for the Father, $2 for the Son, $3 for the Holy Spirit. And although no-one is rich in Falf??rrias, everyone happily pulls out the green.
Word spreads like wildfire. The pilgrims come from all around the State. To worship. To gawk. To leave heart-felt prayers tacked to the walls of the Tortilla's newly-built shrine. There‘«÷s a counting of the miracles; all the unexplainable and wondrous events occasioned by the Tortilla‘«÷s appearance: including a child who can suddenly walk; a suddenly profitable business for Isidor, and, most convincingly, the resuscitation of a pig.
Among the hordes comes a city-slicker named Gil Garcia. Suspiciously out of place in a bright red, souped-up, low-rider pick-up, with three Chicana babes always in tow. Billing himself as a management consultant, agent, and attorney-at-law, Gil introduces Isidor to the ideas of expansion and franchising‘«™even Tortilla Heaven merchandising. All Isidor has to do is ‘«£sign on the dotted line‘«ō‘«™.and all his dreams for himself and his family will come true. Of course, Isidor signs Gil on his partner.
As the bucks begin to roll in, everyone in town tries to claim the Tortilla for themselves. The mayor insists the Tortilla belongs to the city, with all admission fees to go towards building a municipal golf course. The priest knows better: ‘«£Jesus Christ is the registered trademark of the Roman Catholic Church!, ‘«ō he insists. Soon there are souvenirs, memorabilia, and the Mug of the Holy Mug (‘«£Have Jesus with your coffee ‘«Ű as He appeared to us!!‘«ō). Under Gil‘«÷s guidance, Isidor eventually takes in everyone in Falf??rrias as his business partners, and for a while everyone can live off the Tortilla‘«™and does.
But of course Gil is really the master of the scam. Manipulating the contractual fine print and preying upon ignorance and greed, Gil soon pits family against family, friends against friends, husband against wife. Rather than basking in riches and glory, Falf??rrias is being pulled deeper and deeper in debt. Suddenly the whole town is fighting. No one is speaking to anyone, no one is sleeping with anyone, and Tortilla Heaven becomes Tortilla Hell. Even Isidor‘«÷s wife and young son want nothing to do with him.
At the brink of financial disaster and facing the estrangement of his family, Idisor resolves to restore normalcy. But is he too late? And who in Hell is this Gil?
And that‘«÷s when the REAL miracle occurs.
Tortilla Heaven, starring Jose Zuniga, George Lopez, Lupe Ontiveros, Miguel Sandoval,
Olivia Hussey, Alexis Cruz, Ana Ortiz, Irene Bedard y Elaine Miles. opens nationally on movie screens on March 16.