Making Tamales a Christmas Tradition
When I first moved to the United States from Ireland in 1975, I met the Ortega Family who lived in Whittier, California. I was fresh off the boat, spoke only “Irish” (which is actually English but with a Belfast accent) and did not speak Spanish. The only members of the Ortega Family who spoke English were their sons; Ivan and Jesus. I spent my first Christmas Eve at their home learning to make tamales with Mama Ortega and her two daughters; Irma and Iris. I figured that if I could learn how to make Indian food in Belfast with non-English speaking Indian Women, then what the heck! I would give it a try.
Tamales are traditional treats for the Christmas Season in Mexican households and the Hispanic Community. Perhaps because they are so much work and so many are made, that families only make them once a year. There is nothing different about Christmas Tamales – they are simply made at Christmas. Tamales are basically Masa dough made from hominy, spread on a leaf such as corn husks or banana leaves, then stuffed with a yummy filling such as; Chicken in a Black Mole sauce (Mole Poblano), Pork in a Green Chile sauce, or fresh Vegetables and Mexican Cheeses, then folded and steamed for several hours.
There is great fun here as the entire family has a hand in the preparation of the Tamales! Most folks think of these steamed bundles of goodness as strictly savory and filled with chicken or Pork, but at Lula Cocina Mexicana we also make sweet Pineapple Tamales with thick Mexican Cream.
Our Tamale Lady at Lula, Juana (pictured above in her colorful Blouse) makes thousands of hand-made Tamales every month.
For the Holiday Season we are offering the following Tamales by the dozen:
Green Corn Tamales, Vegetarian Tamales (these are Vegan), Chicken Tamales Oaxaquenos in Banana Leaves and Ricardo’s Chicken Tamales in Black Bean Masa Dough.