Friday, August 19, 2011


Last weekend, I attended an early morning tamale making class. The class wasn't in a kitchen, it was held in the dining room of a family Mexican restaurant in the Silverlake neighborhood. I was surprised when we arrived to find over 30 people attending the class.

Everyone sat around the restaurant with their bowls of pre-soaked masa and added ingredients and assembled tamales as instructed by the teacher. Tamale making is a 2+ day process normally because first you have to soak the masa in water, then you have to soak the corn husks in water and you have to prepare your fillings before you can even think about adding spices and starting the assembly and then it takes time to cook them afterwards. In order to fit the class into two hours, the restaurant staff did all the prep work ahead of time.

We sat down and massaged oil and spices into our masa making sure it was evenly distributed. Then we took one soaked corn husk and ripped it into strips (the ties) and we took the others and spread a very thin layer of masa all over. After that we placed a small bit--like 1 T of filling in the center and tried our hand at folding, rolling and tying the tamales. Then my friends and I had breakfast while we waited the additional hour and a half for the tamales to steam.

I had one of my tamales the next day and the other two later and while they were delicious, the workmanship was less than stellar (I have a picture but it is so gross looking I will spare you)--I would make them again but only if I had a whole bunch of friends with me and it was the fun of the making rather than the precision of the final product that mattered.

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