Saturday, December 26, 2009

Main Entry: ta·ma·le

I was over at my cousin's blog the other day. She wrote about "the best little cake with a flaky outside layer, which if made properly, is chewy and dense. The treasure inside of a cannelé should lightly reveal a moist, golden miette, like the inside of a fresh bread pudding".  It took everything in me to stay seated, finish reading, and not run into the kitchen looking for something to snack on.

This time of year, especially, everything looks and smells so tasty.  Everyone begins baking and offering the most delicious of delicious cakes, cookies, candies and tamales.

I grew up in a home where it was mandatory to make tamales every Christmas.  Man.da.tory.  You had to be present and accounted for if you even thought you might want to eat one during the holiday season.  We learned early on how to hold the oja in one hand, spread the masa on, spoon in a bit of meat, add an olive and close the thing up for consumption at a later time or date. 

We generally made them Christmas Eve during the day.  That night family and friends would gather at the house and we'd eat tamales all the way through to New Years Eve.  I never tired of them and gained at least five pounds every year during the holidays.

We made a variety of them; pork, chicken, cheese, I can even remember making bean tamales.  If that ain't Mexican, I don't know what is!  Bean Tamales!   Some tamales were laced with jalapeños, some sweet and some were filled with corn.  There isn't anything we didn't try.

I haven't made them for a time now so I wonder if I still have a hand for it.  I really should give it a shot.  Christmas is just not Christmas without them and my family has gotten into the habit of buying them instead of making them.  So now that Christmas day has passed, and before we get into New Years Eve, I've decided I just have to try it.

This week I'll be going out to buy all the ingredients.  I'm not the best of cooks, but neither am I the worst.  I frequently feed friends and family.  When there are parties, I'm often elected or offer to do the cooking.  It all gets eaten and we haven't lost anyone yet so my cooking can't be all that bad, right?  Humor me, please.

Wish me luck, I'll report back after the first of the year.  If I gain 5 pounds, you'll know they were good.

The most sexiest food in the world. Once you taste one tamale, u will fall completely in love with them.


Castles Crowns and Cottages said... bring back the sweetest of memories. You hit it all on the head. I thought I had a great memory, but I love when you say, " had to be present and accounted for." How true, and how sweet the mandate. Your dad was my hero, you know. I watched him, quiet child, observant in every way, I caught glimpse of a man that loved people and life and every celebration (which was quite often) was filled with the gathering of our family and family friends AND even newcomers to the Leonard household. I loved the sweet tamales made with what, pineapple or raisins? All of them were outstanding. Then, when Ruben and I married, I saw that his heritage included pasteles, a similar dish only instead of corn masa, it was made with mashed plantain....somehow these little gift-wrapped wonders are an important part of many Latino fiestas, and they are dear to me...I wish you luck with making them. I attempted once when we first moved to Boston, but the masa flour, to my chagrin, had bugs in it when I opened the that time, no many Latinos in Boston. Then I tried again. A major ingredient was missing and I was not able to find it in close proximity......all of my family. It takes a family, a head boss, like your dad, to make the memories. Make your memories sweet cousin, and think of me. I love you. Happy New Year....

Rattus Scribus said...

Dear Marie
I so remember having those wonderful meals at your parents' house not just on Christmas, but on New Years and Thanksgiving and other occasions. Tamales, beans and rice, enchiladas and more. For those poor souls who don't know, authentic Mexican food is a revelation, and your family always did it right.

Those were some fun times and I'll never forget them.

Love and Happy New Year to you,

Me....bunny said...

WOW...good for you and your ambition.
Me...I didn't even buy any this year.
Making them with a bunch of people is half the fun...the eating part in the half that's funner.

Debbie said...

You're a better woman than I am my friend! TAMALES - DELICIOUS but WHAT WORK!!!! Remember when we had the tamale party at your house one Friday night years ago? Man that chile you made WAS GOOD!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dear cousin,
YOUR WORDS bring such warmth and love. God is great, that is all I can say! May we all find new opportunities this coming year and great success!!! Bisous! Anita