Tamales – a Mexas tradition

I made tamales. We’ve been here three years and I finally found someone with the patience and know-how needed to teach me the ancient art of tamale.

Tamales are the Mexas/Christmas version of the Thanksgiving Turkey. EVERYONE makes them for Christmas down here. Roadside tamale stands crop up; some people sell them door to door. You can even find cheapies at the local convenience stores and gas stations. Like most ethic dishes, they’re really easy to get really wrong. Despite this knowledge, I wanted to try making them.

My friend comes from a very large Hispanic family, and they did their tamale day withOUT her this year, which incensed her and prompted her to try it on her own. However, it’s at least a two person job, so I volunteered to be her helper. And it went so well that I have ZERO photos of the finished product, because we were too busy eating them to take pictures. Here’s a web photo I found to give you some idea of what we were making:

But the parts of tamale making (which I DID catch on film) are as follows:

Cook the meat mixture (a stew-y concoction of flavored meats like pork and venison, often the kind of meat that can’t be used in “normal” foods… ie: offal).

Then taste the meat mixture with your hands. It adds love.

Mix the masa (corn flour mixture) by hand, also.

Go back and re-taste the meat mixture, adding some extra heat, because that’s what it needs. (That’s a huge block of lard to my left… it’s essential, makes everything stick together.)

Assemble (no photos, sorry, it’s a top-secret skill) and then cook in a specially made tamale pot.

Eat. A lot. Seriously. A TON. Because they’re delicious. We did an awesome job. If you stick with me for many more years, perhaps I will someday pass my super-awesome tamale-making knowledge on to you.

For now, just enjoy the photos.

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4 thoughts on “Tamales – a Mexas tradition”

  1. The only kind of tamales I ate growing up were the kind from a can. I was not very impressed. But recently I had some from a hispanic lady that was going door to door selling them and I actually was astonished how much yummier they were than I remember! I like the Christmas Tamale tradition!!!

  2. I forgive you for going over to the dark side but it is hard to understand. My intro to the Tamale tradition was Nicaragua's Nacatamale – a concoction of tripe, spices and boiled banana leaf served with the conviction that I was being blessed with ambrosia. I truly was unable to swallow it! I am willing to try anything once – but not twice!

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