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belated TAMALE/CHRISTMAS update

My ancestors came from Ireland. All of them. It’s a source of great joy for me.

Another source of amazing joy is that I married into another culture, one that -- like my first one -- is also known for its warmth, generosity, humor and storytelling. And it doesn’t hurt that their cuisine is yummy. My mother-in-law was a sensational cook, and I more or less stalked her for years, shadowing her in her kitchen, soaking up every bit of info and lore I could.

She always made tamales at Christmas and menudo at New Year’s. Now, I do that.

This year we made tamales over a period of two days – 100 on Christmas Eve, 100 Christmas Day. It worked well given the schedules of my children, whom I rely on to spread the masa on the husks. It’s monotonous work, but they keep their eyes on the prize and do it cheerfully. They even get a little competitive about it! Visitors get to help too, as does my husband. He plays other roles also, like going with me to the Mexican deli to buy masa preparada, and cutting up all the bargain pork roasts I accumulated in the freezer during the year.

Even though we buy prepared masa, we augment it with broth from the simmered meat, and also with baking power and some whipped lard. Getting it to the right consistency is the most challenging part for me – or at least, the part I worry about the most. Another difficult part, but one I love doing, is making the sauce by simmering and then pureeing dried Anaheim and New Mexico chilies, and then forcing them through a sieve, adding garlic and herbs, and combining the result with the broth. This is what separates these tamales from most store-bought ones – the freshness and the sauce.

So that’s how I spent most of my Christmas. The rewards? A close, happy, well-fed family, a great tradition respected and cherished – and I didn’t have to make any meals for days thereafter, since tamales reigned supreme.

In other words, I had a lovely holiday. (Good thing I didn’t know my computer was just about to croak. Sheesh…)



Jan. 10th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Chiles & Eulogies
We don't have any "fun" eulogies yet, so send Kristie's!! Guess I better write a funny one . . .

I just received Tashya's and it filled my heart and my eyes.

I also have eulogies from:
Nancy Holder
Erica Orloff and

I don't know if we have a good rellanos recipe -- my mom got all healthy years ago and since the recipe she made when I was little was anything but -- breaded, egg-dipped, fried (although she might have moved on to baking), I'll have to look around for one.


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