Christmas + Tamales =
November 29, 2007 12:05 AM   Subscribe

More precisely, it's not Navidad without tamales.

Which doesn't make them any less yummy.

posted by wendell at 12:33 AM on November 29, 2007

now, why did you have to go and do that? Of course you're right, but now you've reminded me, and where am I going to get the ingredients this side of the Atlantic?

Hmm, where *can* I get the ingredients this side of the Atlantic?
posted by honest knave at 12:52 AM on November 29, 2007

Hmm. On further investigation, Mexgrocer ships internationally. So I could at least do Mexican Tamales. I'm used to Guatemalan ones, which use Banana leaves. I wonder...
posted by honest knave at 1:00 AM on November 29, 2007

lol tamales
posted by IronLizard at 2:19 AM on November 29, 2007

A previous tamale post. This is definitely a Christmas Navidad tradition I could embrace!
posted by TedW at 4:33 AM on November 29, 2007

Feliz Navidad!
posted by oddman at 5:26 AM on November 29, 2007

Oh, indeed.
posted by willpie at 6:18 AM on November 29, 2007

See, I live in New England, where "tomalley" has more unfortunate connotations. But of course there are people that actually eat it with gusto. Ew.
posted by xthlc at 6:27 AM on November 29, 2007

Hooray, bigmusic!

I've been fascinated with this since I was a little kid in Texas. Last year I decided to learn to make tamales at home and used that Son of the South link (the last one), which is just excellent for step-by-step instructions. The tamales were a great success. I'd really like to have a tamale party for Christmas, but they do take a fair amount of time, especially to make enough for a crowd. We'll see.
posted by Miko at 6:44 AM on November 29, 2007

I'm too lazy to make my own, so I usually order from Delicious Tamales in San Antonio. A little pricey (and tiny), but their desert and tomatillo tamales rival the wares of the little old ladies' who sell them door to door.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 7:02 AM on November 29, 2007

thank you bigmusic. thank. you.
posted by Stynxno at 7:03 AM on November 29, 2007

The first year my wife--who is from up north--was at our family's house for Christmas, she suggested it was odd that tamales and homemade chili were a prominent part of the Christmas dinner.

It was as if she expressed that she thought it was odd we breathed oxygen.

When I go to her family for Christmas, I buy some locally made tamales and take them with me. It wouldn't be the same without them.
posted by dios at 7:33 AM on November 29, 2007

Ahh, making tamales in Grandma's kitchen. The first article almost describes my childhood memories to a T. Thanks for the recipes.

If you're not making them yourself, order them in advance for Christmas Eve . You'll be the envy of the bakery when they turn away all of the poor suckas who didn't and you walk past with 5-10 dozen warm, fragrant tamales.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 7:44 AM on November 29, 2007

For those of you in LA (and coming to Pasadena soon!), I highly recommend Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe. Huge selection of tamales (changing regularly), and all delicious. And they help train people to start their own small businesses, so you can feel good about yourself even when you over-eat (and by "you" I mean "I").
posted by mzanatta at 7:57 AM on November 29, 2007

We always had them growing up in Arizona. I guess there's no time like the present to start trying to make them.
posted by padraigin at 7:59 AM on November 29, 2007

Oh man, at my old apartment in Phoenix we had people come around once a week selling freshly made tamales. There's nothing like having warm, soft pillows of chipotle-laced beef or spicy green chile pork delivered right to your door. It's a shame the INS or health department eventually caught up with them, one day they just stopped coming and my life was that much poorer for it.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:38 AM on November 29, 2007

Tamales are not part of my Christmas tradition.

But they should be.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2007

This is the most evil post I have ever seen on the blue. I was born in Arizona, and my maternal family is all still there. Once you go AZ, you just can't go back.

Shit, I can't even find a mexican joint that has them on the menu in Philly. I can't tell you how many times I've gone out for mexican only to end up a sad panda.

That in itself is a crime. But this post, being read moments before lunch as I sit in a cubicle with a growling stomach, is like tobasco being poured into an already festering wound.

You sir, have made my list.
posted by butterstick at 8:56 AM on November 29, 2007

When I was pregnant with my second kid, I'd drive into San Francisco and meet a friend at Zeitgeist, then sip club soda while waiting for the Tamale Lady to come around.

For a while, "Tamale Lady" was my number one choice of names for the baby.
posted by padraigin at 8:58 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

More prior tamales
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:00 AM on November 29, 2007

Man, I haven't made Christmas tamales since I left So Cal. I miss them.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:02 AM on November 29, 2007

This is one of those Christmas without tamales for me (in Costa Rica we have the banana leave kind). I'd cook my own, but it's a lot of work for such a small batch. We are used to cook them in the hundreds. Also, my vegetarian husband would die if he knew what goes into the masa.
posted by papalotl at 9:03 AM on November 29, 2007

Indeed, no esta navidad sin tamales. (Hope I got that right.)

That reminds me... I gotta call Shorty and find out when the tamales are gonna be done this year. She makes the best, bar freakin' none.
posted by azpenguin at 9:22 AM on November 29, 2007

My favorite post ever!

I married into a Mexican-American family who abandoned the Christmas tamale tradition years ago but, at the encouragement of my wife and myself, finally kickstarted it back up last year. My wife had fond childhood memories of making them every Christmas and missed the tradition. After a couple of years of begging and pleading, it took my wife getting pregnant to finally convince her mother ("Wouldn't it be a great tradition for your grandchild to grow up with?") that it was time to start the Christmas tamale assembly line once again. I was the lucky one who got to make the pork filling, with the assistance of my wife's aunt, of course (she saved my butt from making a horrendous mistake, actually).

We're really looking forward to making them again this year and, bigmusic, you fanned the flames of my tamale-making desire! I can't wait to share these links with my wife. Thank you!
posted by JT at 9:29 AM on November 29, 2007

In true California whitelady fashion, I outsource the arduous tamales and focus on gourmet desserts this time of year. But oh boy, it is not Christmas at all without tamales and a big crock pot of Chile Verde too! *glances at AskMe wait before she can post "best vegetarian tamale recipe" question*

I have this fuzzy memory of going to Taco John's in Rapid City, and ordering a tamale from the menu, only to find that Midwestern chain restaurant tamale = beef enchilada. Not cool, guys. No love.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:38 AM on November 29, 2007

posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 9:51 AM on November 29, 2007

tamales gisu -Chamorro Tamales
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 10:03 AM on November 29, 2007

I've been making them for my family for a few years now. We've got a Green Chile Chicken recipe we picked up in a Rick Bayless cookbook, but use leftover Thanksgiving turkey. This year's batch is in the freezer already...
posted by paisley at 11:06 AM on November 29, 2007

mmmmm tamales! One of my dear Pasadenan dad's faves.There's a little Mexican bakery in my hood, where they make delicious fresh tamales daily next to Video Cafe.

Leon Bakery
695 Ninth Avenue (betw 47th & 48th)

Which looks quite a bit like this Mexican bakery.

Just love the artistry of them being wrapped in the corn leaves.

The Hell's Kitchen business directory.
posted by nickyskye at 12:59 PM on November 29, 2007

This post makes me realize I take tamales for granted, while to a lot of people they might be a sort of special treat. I can just drive 5 minutes to my regular grocery store and get some really good pork, chicken or bean tamales. (I'm in Mexico)

Maybe I should learn how to make them, but again, if they're so readily available here, it could be too much work and mess to do it myself.

My wish for Christmas lunch this year: Lengua de Res. (beef tongue). Yum!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:22 PM on November 29, 2007

You're right, it's not Christmas. Even with tamales.
posted by pompomtom at 3:44 PM on November 29, 2007

Thank you, thank you, but now I'm salivating. Our next-door neighbors in Galveston gave us homemade tamales last year. Now that we've moved, I need to find a local source.

/googles Houston tamale factory

There! That works.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:16 PM on November 29, 2007

You can pick up your Declicous Tamales after heading to the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center for a performance of Las Nuevas Tamaleras.
posted by Ranucci at 4:34 PM on November 29, 2007

Tamale Lady means Christmas this year. :)
posted by sir_rubixalot at 9:31 PM on November 29, 2007

A quite interesting fact of which few English speakers are aware: the (Spanish) singular from of "tamales" is "tamal", not "tamale", which of course doesn't mean that the English word "tamale" is incorrect, just that it is based on an incorrect assumption about the singular form in the original Spanish.
posted by squarehead at 4:12 PM on December 2, 2007

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