Oh yes, I love tamales.  I love all kinds of tamales.  There is no better time to enjoy them than during the Fiestas Decembrinas (December holidays).  This is a really quick post with a really quick video about our families that get together to catch up on each others’ lives over the building of a mountain of tamales.  You can’t just eat one tamal, even when you try.Tamal Isaac
Even my baby nephew got in on the action except… his was more of a sculpture session. Because we are increasingly mobile and my family is spread out, we gather once a year and tamales are usually part of the celebration. This Christmas Eve 2015, we made tamales of chicken in red chile sauce and poblano pepper strips (rajas) with cheese. We also made Chopes which are sweet small tamales using the same masa (corn meal mix) but with fruit and nuts added. They are delicious! I should have thought ahead and videotaped a step-by-step but… too late; we were caught up in our creations. This was us during the process. Merry Christmas everyone (although I also pulled out my aluminum pole for Festivus, the delicate family balance…. hmmm…)!!

The December Tamal challenge… how many can you name?

Some of us with Latin American roots already started the annual season of tamales by having more than one tamal on Thanksgiving or made turkey tamales from leftovers… which got me thinking… Every year my Mexican belly gobbles up tamales de frijol (of beans), pollo en salsa verde (chicken in green sauce), puerco (pork), res (beef), chopes (sweet coconut & pineapple ones that my mom loved as a child and still makes for us), rajas de chile (poblano pepper slices), etc., etc. I’ve had them Northern Mexican style, Oaxacan Mexican style, Colombian style, Peruvian and so on.

So what if we decided to actually dedicate the whole month to trying out a new tamal flavor each day? As long as we don’t have to shell out the Williams-Sonoma price ($54 for 3 dozen), I would sooooo do it. Except, it is not on my paleo plan :P.

december tamal challenge

Oh, and by the way, tamal is one single corn dough like tube or square filled with yummy anything and wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf or other natural wrap depending on the region. Tamales is the plural. Tamale is a word that seems to only exist in the U.S. which is gaining acceptance but is still not the singular of tamales.

So how many different styles and fillings of tamales can you name?

Tamalada Border Patrol style

Not in celebration of la Virgen de Guadalupe or Christmas, but Chief Patrol Agent Robert Harris of the Laredo Border Patrol hosted a TAMALADA which is a Mexican tradition during the holiday season! How very cool and not expected of Border Patrol. I think the agency might be getting hip as it continues to grow… or maybe not. It does make for good public relations, though.

Unfortunately, this invitation created a conflict in my household with the definition of what is a tamalada. In my understanding, it is a big tamal-making gathering where you all pitch in to do your part for the big feast. My partner on the other hand said “You are crazy, it is a party to go eat tamales.” He told me to go tell BP Chief Harris to start preparing to embarrar hojas (the part of the preparation where you put the corn meal mix on the corn husk) to which, I had no response other than that a traditional tamalada is to make tamales. I still think I am right. It doesn’t matter because local bloggers were not invited 🙁 – or maybe they were but I wasn’t, ha!

The invitation sent to many local leaders in Laredo for the annual Tamalada at Border Patrol offices

Check out some footage of the Border Patrol Tamalada on Univision