Making Tamales for the Holidays
From Tamara’s Tamales: The tamale is recorded as early as 5000 BC, possibly 7000 BC in Pre-Columbian history. Initially, women were taken along in battle as army cooks to make the masa for the tortillas and the meats, stews, drinks, etc. As the warring tribes of the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan cultures grew, the demand of readying the nixtamal (corn) itself became so overwhelming a process, a need arose to have a more portable sustaining foodstuff. This requirement demanded the creativity of the women…..hence the tamale was born. See HERE
I’d had never eaten a Mexican Tamale until I came to California in 1984. The closest thing to a Tamale I have eaten is a Pastel. They are also a holiday tradition with us Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. Pasteles are a traditional dish in several Latin American countries. In Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and Panama, it is similar to a tamale. Wikipedia
Chef Virginia Lopez shows you how to make tamales in 6 steps:
If you’re curious why Tamales are a holiday tradition, check out these websites:
A Christmas tradition– There are several theories about why this food has become so identifiable with the birth of Christ.
Corn was a very important crop in Mesoamerica, with people believing that people were created from corn. Tamales, because they were wrapped in corn husks, became part of ritual offerings. As a nod to those times, people prepare tamales for special occasions including baptisms, weddings, Dia Del Los Muertos, and, of course, Christmas.
- She’s Cookin– A Mexican Holiday Tradition- If you live in southern California you know that tamales are a Christmas tradition, and being of Hispanic origin is not a prerequisite. During the holidays, homemade tamales are highly coveted; you’ll find families ordering tamales from Mexican restaurants (we ordered ours from Las Barcas, a local neighborhood family-owned restaurant) or from some other inside connection established through a friend or coworker who knows a family that makes tamales to sell during the holidays.
- And for my Guatemalan brothers and sisters The Tradition of Christmas Tamale Baskets For many indigenous Guatemalans, it wouldn’t be Christmas without tamales. While there are many varieties of tamales throughout Guatemala, the most common kinds are made of maize and stuffed with a thick, flavorful sauce, vegetables and pork or chicken.