Tamales of the World

November 14, 2012
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With the Holidays nearly here, the emergence of Tamales is one thing we’re all getting excited about here at Mission. We are helping sponsor the 3rd annual Tamales Holiday Festival at the famed Pearl Brewery in San Antonio on Saturday, December 1. The festival will run from 12 pm-6 pm and we’d love for all of you to stop by if you are  in town. Read more about the event here!      

Image Courtesy of IFood.TV

  Here is a little information for all those who’re unfamiliar with Tamales or for those who just want to learn more about this tasty food: 

The tamal, as it is correctly and properly referred to, is a Latin American dish that’s traditionally made of masa and is wrapped in a leaf paper or corn husk, then steamed and boiled until warm and tender. The wrapper keeps the tamales hot and in one piece, and it is removed before eating, leaving a delicious, flavorful treat. Tamales are generally stuffed with meats, but this varies depending on where you are. It’s history dates back to the Ancient Mayans and its presence today is one that is undeniable in certain parts of the world. {The United States has enjoyed tamales since the late 1800s!} In Mexico particularly, and in other countries around the world, the tamal is an important part of their cultures and their culinary traditions. Interestingly, tamales are prepared differently depending on the location in which it is made. For example, in Mexico,  there are different kinds of tamales in different states and regions of the country. Most variations are filled with chicken or pork, but the list goes on and on, ranging from spicy fillings to sweet tamales, tamales de dulce, that are filled with raisins, dried fruit, and sugar.    

Want to try a great, traditional Beef Tamal recipe? This one looks pretty good!    

 In Central American countries like Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras, tamales normally don’t have a stuffing of any kind (no meat, cheese, peppers, etc.) and they are served more as the bread/starch portion of a meal. In more tropical parts of the world like Oaxaca or Veracruz, and even in Peru and Bolivia, the leaves from banana trees or plantains are used to wrap the tamales, and the tamales themselves are generally much bigger, thicker, and more square in shape.    

Example of a plantain-wrapped tamale. Image courtesy of ookaboo.com

 The interesting thing is that tamales have a worldly presence. The tamal is a global concept that different cultures take and recreate in their own ways. In the Far East and in India, the people have embraced their own tamals, replacing some of the key ingredients with rice dough, fish paste, and spices to name a few.  

Tamales can be found on most Mexican restaurant menus year-round, but they are traditionally most popular during special Holidays and celebrations, mainly because they are an all-day affair to make! The process isn’t a quick one, but once you try it, you will be convinced that it was worth the time, effort, and the sweat!  You can read some great tips on AllRecipes.com about How to Make Tamales- view here!   

This Holiday Season keep your eyes peeled for Tamales on restaurant menus and at other Holiday events, fundraisers, and more! Come see us at the Pearl if you get a chance! This is the perfect opportunity to sample tamales from some of the city’s experts!

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