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A traditional Mesoamerican dish, meat wrapped in masa

Postcards from the Tamalerias of Southwest Detroit


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Location: ~ Midwest Region U.S.

Story Date: 12/23/2019

Author: Serena Maria Daniels, Grace Reyes

The tamal is the perfect Christmas present. After all, it comes already neatly wrapped inside a corn husk or banana leaf. It’s handmade, which of course, is always the best kind of gift, usually made with love in a home kitchen by an assembly-line helmed by abuelas, tias, and moms, who direct all the primos in the hours-long assemblage, often taking place on Christmas Eve. The tamal is incredibly comforting for the body and soul during long, cold, dark winters, with its fluffy masa and fillings of chile-laden stewed pork or chicken, veggies or cheese, jalapeños, beans, and sometimes sweet fruit. The aroma of the tamaladas that fill the air, whether they be from a home kitchen, a restaurant, bakery, or church kitchen are as ubiquitous to Christmas as gingerbread and candy canes. For many, the tradition has shifted away from making them at home to picking up a dozen (or 10) from the local tamaleria, usually founded by other peoples’ abuelas and passed down from generation to generation.

Place Category: Food & Drink

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