Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tamales…and Navidad

It’s not Christmas without tamales…and not just any tamales but the ones made with Mom’s recipe. The last couple of years I’ve been writing down the steps and trying to get all the steps of this painstaking process down. Mom is getting up in years and I’ve got to this down, because tamales made by others or store bought will just NOT do! Plus I want my kids to learn and know this tradition even though we’ve changed it up slightly (thank goodness for modern conveniences). As usual, I took a vacation day from work to begin the process and it took me all of Friday to just purchase the ingredients and supplies needed for this annual tamalada and to pre-cook and shred the meat. Early Saturday we made the mole sauce from scratch and the masa and then began putting them together. Although my girls and I took care of the heavier workload (kneading the masa, frying the ingredients for the mole, soaking and cleaning the corn husks, etc.), mom was nearby, tasting and gently guiding us in the steps. Once we get to the point of putting them together, the whole thing goes smoothly with an assembly line of one of us putting the masa on the hoja (corn husk), passing it down for the next person to add the meat (which has been mixed in with the red mole sauce), and then passed down to the next person to carefully put into the cooking pot. The whole time everyone is talking, catching up on the family gossip and happenings. Once the pot is full, water is added and we set them to cook. While they are cooking we have a few snacks but nothing that would spoil our appetite as we anxiously await the first tamales of the season – an hour or two later (depending on the size of the pot), we have our first succulent batch of fresh tamales – delicioso! It just isn’t Christmas without a tamalada – a time to celebrate the bond of family.

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