Tis the season for TAMALES, fa la la la la la la la la…
What could be more festive than tamales? Just the shear process of making them is by definition, FESTIVE! All the women of the family, closest friends, and surrounding neighbors gathered together in one tiny house. Cherished loved ones in aprons hovering over perfectly seasoned smoldering pork and stewing chicken. Gifted hands dutifully chopping and cleaning jalapeños and onions. Skilled hands making masa with lard, kneading it for an hour to get it just right, and washing and soaking corn husks. Little hands scrubbing countertops and tables in preparation of the assembly process. Pots of steaming water bubbling away furiously on the stove. Music and chatter, mostly Spanish, lingering festively in the atmosphere. Restless children bustling underfoot. Moms and grandmoms hollering at them, and also sharing stories of Christmases past, faith, and Jesus and Mary and Joseph, women having babies, and the glory of God. Aunts, cousins, and in-laws laughing, tasting, teasing, gossiping, squabbling, crying, and making merry with one another. Everyone settling into their station to lovingly mass produce dozens upon dozens of these tasty little treats, for their grateful families…and ours.
Even the act of eating tamales is festive. In fact, Christmas isn’t Christmas without tamales (especially if you’re in Texas)…freshly made, piping hot little packages of glistening gold, waiting to be unwrapped, and then decorated with red and green, and flocked with white.
My very favorite tamales are savory pork with spicy jalapeno and dripping with bacon fat. Mmmm. Oh my goodness! I love them hot and fresh from the steamer, buck naked, and so scorching that I can barely hold onto the wrapper to unwrap it, blowing and blowing, and deliriously addicted to its intoxicating aroma as it passes over my lips and melts on my tongue. If that were the only way I could ever have them, it would be plenty enough for me, but a little hot sauce, red or green, makes them even better! And, oh how I adore them dolled up Tex-Mex style, like a taco. Three sleepy amigos laying on my plate, brought to life with green onions and lettuce and cheese and pico de gallo and black olives and sour cream with salsa mixed in it, spooned on top. Or, how lovely they are dressed with green tomatillo salsa and some chopped green onion, or smothered in spicy New Mexico green chili, or Terlingua red chili. Or swimming in a spicy, creamy pepper-jack cheese sauce and heaped with fresh pico on top. Or, my favorite way, decked out like a bowl of tortilla soup, sitting in their husks and splashed with a squeeze of lime, then slathered in red or green salsa, with a handful of chopped, fresh cilantro, chopped green onion, guacamole, and a generous crumble of queso fresco tossed on top. (I’m seeing a Tamale Bar in my future; an Ugly Sweater Christmas party with a Tamale Bar and a house decorated in hot chili pepper lights – see how festive tamales are?). Oh how I love them!!!!!!! I love them sooooo much! I feel almost guilty penning my intimate thoughts. Fifty shades of GOLD. Is it okay to lick the husks? <blushing!>
Just lift the lid and let the steam swirl up onto your face. Gaze upon their golden deliciousness! Decorate them with your favorite red and green, and white! Serve them at parties or eat them on the street. Give them to your family, or sneak a midnight treat! Eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, every day of the week and the whole month of December. I know all these tamales will lead to diet resolutions, but for now please let us savor our binomial distributions! Muy fantástico!
* feliz navidad *