Friday, December 30, 2005

I forgot ... the tamales

I forgot to write about one of the important traditions in the Rio Grande Valley around Christmas time. Tamales! If you live far from the Southern border, you may have tasted canned tamales. Those things are crap. Please don't judge tamales by those standards. Tamales are great when they are fresh. There are chicken tamales, pork tamales, beef tamales, bean tamales, sweet tamales, and I recently tasted cream cheesa and jalapeno tamales. The Christmas holiday is the best time of year because of the abundance of tamales. Certainly they are greasy and can stain your clothes with the spice and chile coloring. There is no doubt that the carbs and high fat content will put you over the 2 million calorie mark. But who cares? They're delicious. If there is one thing that the Mexican culture has got right, it's tamales.

The beauty of tamales is that they are delicious when they are fresh. If you have leftovers, you can freeze them. Afterwards, you can nuke them or toss them on a comal (a skillet/grill?). If you use a comal, the corn husk will burn and blacken. Just scrape that off and enjoy the tamal. One of my favorite breakfasts is tamales and coffee. That's just heaven.

If you are a traditionalist, like me, you eat tamales with salsa. Mmmm. The tamales are already spicy, but they are often not spicy enough. It may suprise you to know that little Mexicans aren't born liking chile. We acquire the taste. So, the tamales are not so spicy that children won't eat them. This then requires that we add our own comfortable level of "hotness" to the tamales. The taste is up to you. You can use tabasco sauce, picante sauce, homemade salsa, a fresh pepper, or some other hot sauce to give the tamales some kick. Be careful not to overdo it in the morning, however, because if you are enchilado, hot coffee won't help.

I wish to thank God for giving Mexicans tamales. I also want to thank him for making my family Mexican.
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