Where have all the tamales gone?
Lazaro and Moro are from Cuba. They buy most of their fresh and frozen corn from The Cherry Sprout Market where I work. They always buy every last kernel of fresh and frozen corn that we have. I invited them to come and sell their tamales at our Market the next time they visited. About two weeks later they came with their wares. The scent of freshly prepared tamales surrounded them as they came through the door. Everyone in the Market descended opon them and boutght them out--about three dozen tamales. Luckily I had my recorder with and was able to talk with them and invite them on the show. They promised they would. We also set up a time for me to come over to their house where they would show me how to make tamales.
Well, the day before we were going to meet, they called and left a message on my phone "We are not making the tamales anymore so we won't be coming to get you" was all it said. I tried calling several times afterwards but no one answered.
There are several people in my North Portland neighborhood who make and sell tamales. There's Maria who also comes into Cherry Sprout about every two weeks, but I haven't seen her lately. She is from Guatemala and both of her front teeth are cased in gold. Petra from Oaxaca also makes tamales and sells them door to door. She keeps the tamales in a cooler which she wheels around with a shopping cart. I haven't seen her for awhile either. Hmmm. Of course, I want to get a line on tamales, real homemade tamales. There are many times when I have wanted tamales for dinner, but since I don't freeze them and don't have a microwave I am pretty outa luck.
The next time I see one of my favorite tamale people I am going to get a phone number! I want to call and come overto their house with my order. I would love to get to know these neighbors of mine, spend some time in the kitchen with them and exchange stories. Sure I could dig through a recipe book and learn how to put them together myself, but I won't, because part of the pleasure of tamales is that they are such a welcome surprise. I never know when the door bell rings if it will be Petra or if Maria will come into the Market, just as I finish lunch. I'll go ahead and have one anyway, because I never know when I'll get another.
So, there will be no tamales or tamale chefs on the Food Show this month as hoped for. If you have a favorite tamale chef then let me know.
Happy Food, Yum,
Photo courtesy of mexicanwave on Flickr-Thank You!