I definitely am partial to Steinbeck novels, so each is truly my new favorite. Tortilla Flat is compared a lot to a Californian King Author and his knights and even has books dedicated to pointing out these similarities... which I have to admit are striking.
The book is based a on a maybe fictitious (by different accounts?) town where the Paisano's live near Monterey. The Paisano's are a mix breed of the Spanish, Indian, Mexican, anything... and according to the book apparently make their living doing nothing but drinking wine and discussing life and ethics while using their Tortilla Flat as a backdrop and setting. Steinbeck gives a description of a paisano, who speaks English with a paisano accent, and Spanish with a paisano accent, "He is a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexican and assorted Caucasian bloods. His ancestors have lived in California for a hundred years or two.... He lives in that uphill district above the town of Monterey called Tortilla Flat, though it isn't flat at all."