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Hound Dog

Jan 16, 2010, 3:15 PM

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A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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...is always better.

Chiapanecos are justly famed for their tamales and, as I have posted before, Saturday night is tamal night in San Cristobal de Las Casas as many women all over the city hang red lanterns in front of their houses signifiying that the family living therein has, normally as a family project, prepared tamales for sale to the general public. These tamales can be truly excellent and, over time, one finds a favorite vendor. Ours is down the street from our home in the El Cerrillo Barrio and it is fun to enter the vendors home and find that the tamales and some other accompaniments are prepared with the participation of the kids who delight in the task.

The tamal vendor we prefer usually sells three types of tamales. Asafran, (Chiapas) mole and bola. Asafran and mole tamales come wrapped in banana leaves and the bola is wrapped in corn husks and is much larger and more challenging to consume. Asafran tamales infer the use of fresh turmeric root commonly found in indigenous markets around here (as opposed to saffron) and are my favorites. The mole tamales are also excellent when done well as does our favorite vendor. These tamales come with both chicken and pork fillings. Fine stuff accompanied by some ice cold XX Lager or Tecate cervesa from ones own fridge.

If you are down here and staying in a hotel, that is OK as well. Take your tamales back to your hotel room purchased from a neighborhood vendor recommended by hotel management and buy your beer on the way back to your room from a local tienda.

I must admit that we also enjoy tamales when at home in Ajijic prepared by Zapoteco friends from Oaxaca. The mole in their tamales is a bit different but equally sublime.

When I was a kid in Alabama, Tamales came in a can from Hormel and bore no resemblance to the supurb homemade tamales of Chiapas, Oaxaca and other parts of Mexico. My mama, bless her, served us those Hormel canned tamales every Thursday night for years. She should not have doine that but I am in recovery, thank God.


(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Jan 16, 2010, 3:24 PM)



frito

Jan 16, 2010, 4:05 PM

Post #2 of 10 (6455 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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When I worked as a FedEx courier in McAllen I greatly enjoyed the Christmas tradition of giving tamales and other treats to visitors. Ate alot of tamales! Venison was one of the local specialties but all were excellent. Glad to hear about the tamales there. Speaking of cuisine, I know that there's a good selection of international restaurants there but how do the Chiapan dishes compare with Mexican food in other parts of the country? I'm especially fond of soups, or is that sopas? Tlapeno is common in McAllen and very tasty. Haven't had it in years but I could eat it every day! Do restaurants offer vegetables or is it mostly rice and beans?


Zorba

Jan 17, 2010, 1:01 AM

Post #3 of 10 (6426 views)

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Re: [frito] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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You know how to live Dawg. A good tamale and cold beer (preferably michelada) can't be beat.
Follow up with a fine cigar from the San Andres Valley and a good cup of Soconusco cafe.

Clearly, San Cristobal has a lot of character. I picked up a business card from one of the hotels in the main square. It's on the corner. The owner said it is the oldest building in the city. At 600 pesos a night it is very reasonable considering how beautiful the layout and interior is. Such depth.


(This post was edited by Zorba on Jan 17, 2010, 1:03 AM)


gpkgto

Jan 17, 2010, 6:45 AM

Post #4 of 10 (6412 views)

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Re: [Zorba] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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My Mexican friends go crazy when I say "tamale" instead of tamal. Tamal-singular, tamales-plural.


arbon

Jan 17, 2010, 9:27 AM

Post #5 of 10 (6395 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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"My Mexican friends go crazy when I say "tamale" instead of tamal. Tamal-singular, tamales-plural. "

But who can make, buy, or eat only one?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Manuel Dexterity

Jan 17, 2010, 9:29 AM

Post #6 of 10 (6393 views)

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Re: [arbon] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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In Reply To
"My Mexican friends go crazy when I say "tamale" instead of tamal. Tamal-singular, tamales-plural. "

But who can make, buy, or eat only one?


Yo!

Un tamal de mole, uno de rajas y uno de pollo.


(This post was edited by Manuel Dexterity on Jan 17, 2010, 9:30 AM)


arbon

Jan 17, 2010, 9:35 AM

Post #7 of 10 (6385 views)

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Re: [Manuel Dexterity] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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One in each hand, is ambidextrous.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Papirex


Jan 17, 2010, 9:56 AM

Post #8 of 10 (6373 views)

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Re: [gpkisner] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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Our American friends and family always give us a surprised look whenever they hear my wife or I say tamal. While it is accepted as a normal word NOB, tamale seems to be a pure Spanglish word. It doesn't mean singular, and without an s on the end, it doesn't mean plural in Spanish either. Mexicans will always know what a foreigner is talking about, but it is better to use the correct Spanish word.


Rex
"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved" - Victor Hugo


Hound Dog

Jan 18, 2010, 7:57 AM

Post #9 of 10 (6312 views)

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Re: [frito] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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Speaking of cuisine, I know that there's a good selection of international restaurants there but how do the Chiapan dishes compare with Mexican food in other parts of the country?

Well, Frito:

We are very fond of Chiapanecan cuisine. Personally, it is my second favorite cuisine in Mexico right after Yucatecan food. Do not tell YucatanDreamer I said that, however. My three favorite cities in Mexico for dining out on regional Mexican cooking are Merida, Veracruz and Tuxtla Gutierrez in that order. If Merida had a decent climate, we would have moved to that city´s historic center back in 2004 but after 30 plus years in San Francisco we were too thin skinned for that incessant heat and humidity - especially after two years on the Alabama coast as newlyweds back in the 70s.

I plan to write more about Chiapanecan food later, especially the surprisingly good restaurant scene in much maligned Tuxtla Gutierrez which beats San Cristobal any day in my opinion.


frito

Jan 18, 2010, 8:19 AM

Post #10 of 10 (6305 views)

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Re: [Hound Dog] A Tamal Made by Someone Else

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Look forward to reading that! Thank goodness for the new highway to Tuxtla too. Living in San Cristobal, daytrips for good food and shopping in Tuxtla sounds like a great combo.
 
 
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