Gathering the Ingredients


The Tamalada is on! Over at my local Big Saver the after work/pre-tamalada crowds were doing the rounds: picking through the tomatillos, looking for the biggest bag of hojas with nicely shaped husks, contemplating investing in one of those large steamers with the false bottom (at $15 they are worth every penny), making the tough decision of going with the cheaper and milder California chiles or going for broke with the Guajillos. And if you make the queso con rajas tamales then you also have to think about the price range of your cheese, be it the classy and expensive Tillamook or the cheapo but affordable no name blocks. (Is it Henry’s? Dave’s?)  Right by the entrance turnstile was a huge display of masa preparada, but I’ll pass on that and the lard within. I’m sticking to maseca. One of these years I’m going to find a place that sells masa preparada without the lard, because we really need to know. And I bet the place that starts this novel concept is going to get lots of business. I was hoping to do a post on that topic this year but I guess it will have to wait. If you missed it, or if you’re just a pocho that refuses to make your own, check out my post from last year where I covered a few of the tamales available on the Eastside. Maybe by next year I will once again be unemployed and finally have the time to finish some of these post ideas. One can dream.

Above you see some of my basics, and yes, I do use tofu in my red sauce tamales. Plus I add papas. And green olives. It’s better than it sounds. I also make a standard tamal of pasilla rajas/queso/tomatillo salsa that is basic but satisfying. But this year I’m going to invent something new, something for the Chicano kitchen. The kraft cheeze tamal? Yup, that’s going to be created by me. Hay les digo que tal.

So how do you make yours?  May your pot gather steam and your masa set properly. Those are my sincerest wishes to you.

9 thoughts on “Gathering the Ingredients

  1. Kraft singles? That’s heresy, blasphemy and vomit-y all in one. It’s not even real food! Man, no wonder everyone’s all “post-Chicano” these days, if being Chicano means eating Kraft cheese. Wacatela!

  2. What is Xmas about? Giving? Taking? Or as Cartman South Park proclaimed, “Ham!” No, it’s about Tamales! That is a fact of life! Besides a bowl of Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream (soy base), no other edible item can make me smile like a goofy 4 year old. I speak with authority. Over several Christ Mrs., my cousins and I would battle for Tamale Supremacy. All I can say (admit), I won one year. Over the Christ Miss weekend, I put down over 50! And I still breave. As they say, “I put it down.”

    As for the lard, I have already said my piece in another piece. I remember when I used to fry bologna with lard. (Is that some kind of family reunion?) While holding my nose. Oh, the memories. It was the same for “milk,” holding my nose while I drank it. Barf! Well, Mr. Chavo, I commend you for your virtuosity and daring culinary instincts. chimatli mentioned “post-chicano” and “Kraft cheese” in the same thought. That is not good when one is thinking about food. They’re both bad replacements for the real thing.

  3. If my mom’z wasn’t busy making her tamales, she would throw a chancla at you and call you loco in the cabeza for making these tamales. Alas, I have talking to her about catering to this post Chicano palate and diversifying her tamales to cut back on the lard and add more veggies and what not. She made rasberry tamales the other day and they came out great. Now we’re working on making pumking tamales.

  4. Yeah, you all talk shit now, but just wait til my melty cheez tamal comes out of the pot, yer gonna wish you had a bite! I mean, how could it go wrong?

  5. Que Onda jente!
    Why is it that some tamales are so much better than others?
    Why is it that most people will swear that thier Mothers or Abuelas tamales are the best, hands down? What is or was the secret ingredient that makes certain tamales superior to the rest?
    The secret ingredient isn’t secret at all, but it is a very special ingredient.
    That ingredient is “Love”, cooking with love will always make your tamales the best.
    Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad!

  6. cajeta, that is some major california cuisine going on there…but, would go well with my butternut squash atole…or is that just pushing it?

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