In Spanish we say, “Al que nace para tamal, del cielo le caen las hojas.”
“To one who is born to make tamales, the husks fall from heaven.”
The word “tamale” comes from “tamalli” in Nahuatl – the language of the Aztecs. Only an authentically delicious recipe could endure for 6 centuries. Practical, freezable, portable – 3 tamales are a full meal in biodegradable wrappings. You can fill them with anything from fruit, vegetables, greens to meat, raisins, and nuts. You can wrap them in corn husks or banana leaves. Along with tortillas and beans, the tamale is deservedly a revered and required dish in Mexico – the motherland of corn.
But more than all that, tamales are the quintessential bonding food. The real secret is that the ceremony of tamale-making requires cooperation, and stimulates coordination, induces intimacy. It’s inherent in the magic of the ingredients and the choreography of combining them. In Heaven, teams of winged tamaleras (tamale makers) gather in the celestial kitchens and, moving in unison like flocks of birds or schools of fishes, they create mountains of tamales for God and all the saints. On earth, the friends and families that make tamales together stay together.
Latinas can’t really distinguish between love and food anyway. We can’t help it, we believe tamales can save the world. New Mexicans love feast days because of our cooking – baptisms, confirmations, weddings, fiestas, saint’s days, reunions, anniversaries, adobe church restorations, graduations, annual cleaning of the acequias (our ancient irrigation system), birthdays, even funerals – the community comes for love of our cooking. This is the same food that got us through conquest, revolution, re-conquest and conquest again – calabacitas, tortillas, chicos, frijoles and especially – tamales.
Join Heritage Inspirations this March on a tangible and immersive experience to meet Anita Rodriguez. Learn the art of tamale making in Anita’s beautiful adobe home. We will be offering Tamale Cooking Classes every last Friday March through November that will include Anita’s Cookbook, Coyota In The Kitchen. In addition we will be offering a 2-Day Traditional Foods & Tamale Cooking Workshop on July 14th & 15th. She will share a recipe for tamales passed on in a family that has lived on this Indian land for 300 years. In her cookbook Coyota In The Kitchen, she pays tribute to the long line of cooks whose food sustained generations, women at whose tables history was passed on and families were united.
Come and be enveloped in the aromas, textures, tastes and sensations of a culture famous for our hospitality and the sensual delights of our cuisine. Welcome in Anita’s intimate kitchen, walk on a mud floor, touch adobe walls painted with clay, see her brilliantly colorful paintings and immerse yourself in the ceremony of making America’s oldest, pre-packaged slow food and take home tamales to share with your loved ones.
We look forward to hosting you on this delicious tour savoring the flavors of ancient traditions!