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Making Tamales with Grandma

Happy New Year, Y’all!  I am a bit late on this but I still want to share this post with you. 

Tamalada 2011 at Grandma's House.

A tradition in my family and many, many Mexican-American families is to make tamales during the Christmas season also called a tamalada.  Making tamales is one of my favorite past times with my grandmother and the rest of la familia.  Correction: helping my grandmother make tamales is one of my favorite past times.  No, I do not know how to make them by myself from start to finish.  I have been an assistant ever since I was a little girl.  My mother and grandmother taught me how to spread the masa evenly on the cornhusks with the back of a spoon.  I remember that it was not quite so easy for me in the beginning.  Many times I ended up with a glob or two on each tamal and an adult would fix the spread.  Some people use a butter knife to spread the masa but I was taught to use a spoon and that is how I still do it to this day. 
Here is my workstation at my grandma’s house just a few days before Christmas.

As I got older, I was able to add the filling and wrap each tamal, ready to be steam cooked.  Now at 37 years old, I still spread the masa and add the filling and that is about it.  Sorry to disappoint ya.  Heck, I am disappointed in me.  I am now an expert masa spreader and filler but I totally need to kick it up a few lots of notches.  Yes, I should know a lot more by now which I do in a way, but I am nowhere near making them on my own.
Enough about my lack of tamal making skills, here is my much beloved grandma, aka Güela, hard at work, her much cherished, and beautiful tamales.

My grandmother has had that pressure cooker for years, as far back as I can remember!

And lookee here.  My favorite daughter was initiated into the family tradition and without evening knowing it, she learned something about her heritage.  She “made” four of these babies on her own.  I was so proud that I showed off her pictures to family and friends.  I just had to and it was great to see the look of approval, pride and happiness on the the other grandparents, great-grandparents, tíos and tías too.

{Confession: An FYI for ya, ‘tamal’ is singular and ‘tamales’ is plural.  It drives me absolute bonkers when I hear someone say ‘tamale’ instead of ‘tamal.’  A big pet peeve of mine.  Of course I don’t correct people because it comes off as rude, but it still drives me crazy.} 
Oh and here is a pic of some tamales that I was about to enjoy with my favorite coffee ever.  The same coffee I enjoy with my blueberry muffins.  We still have tamales in our fridge and I am getting a little sad as I see them dwindling down.

Every year I pay a little more attention and take more mental notes; but really, I am just enjoying being there with my grandma and fam.  Moreover, as special as that family time is, I need to put a firework under my toosh (that saying is a lot funnier in Spanish) and really learn how to make tamales: grandma style.  Maybe this summer I will ask her to show me the ropes from grocery-shopping-start to eating-homemade-tamales-finish.  J

P.S. Most of these pictures were taken by my 8 year old son with my iPhone.  Not bad, eh?

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