“Making Tamales Day,” the tradition continues

So it was the Saturday before Christmas 2011 and it was the day we had set out to make tamales para Navidad at the house. We do it every year. It’s a family tradition to have my grandmother lead with her Sonora, México recipe. We all follow her instructions and commands, like “Que no le eches tanto caldo a la masa, te digo!!”

I always forget how hard it is. Every December we go through this and yet I’m still surprised by the labor intensive process, the hard work, the HOURS you spend (todo el santo día!) and how the masa and the fixings (in this case it’s a delicious mix of beef, pork, chile colorado sauce, spanish olives and raisins) just seem to multiply themselves into a never ending batch. Es un triunfo llegar to the bottom of the pan!

A mi me toca, como todos los años, hacer la masa from scratch. Nothing else will do. Usamos Maseca, pero en lugar de ponerle manteca de puerco como dice en el paquete, nosotros usamos Crisco, the baking stuff. Así los hacemos desde toda la vida y así nos gustan. Pero esta vez me cansé mucho amasando! Maybe it was because I forgot to do my warmup exercises. You need to approach masa-making like you do a test, or a workout. It is that challenging, especially when you have over 10 pounds of beef en salsa de chile colorado waiting to be assembled into the tamal. Oh the pressure!

But I am grateful for the experience, for the recipe  brought over from Cananea, Sonora, for my amazing grandma still going strong at 92 and still staying there till we’re done, supervising, untando masa en  las hojas, preparando la carne, partiendo aceitunas, you name it.  I am in awe of her and everything she does.

So be happy if you have your Mom, or your Grandma, or your Tias, or your sisters make them for Christmas; or even if you do them yourself, then let me congratulate you on the process and achievement. Making Tamales is truly a labor of love. Here’s to all the women (and men!) who take part in this ritual year after year. Sólo los que los hacemos sabemos cuánto significa.

(And now I need a good strong nightcap porque estoy BEAT!!!)

Left: Amasando la masa, which basically took about 2 hours by hand. Right: All the Tamales are done and placed in their Ziplocs, ready for next week’s cena del 24 de diciembre.

8 thoughts on ““Making Tamales Day,” the tradition continues

  1. SISTER…Next year SI DIOS ME PRESTA VIDA, please invite me over to be part of this ritual..I was too young to appreciate the labor intensive process when they were prepared by my grandmother, much less be a participant in it…I am feeling the pressure to get a tradition going at home with my mom and children…so if our beloved MamaLilia doesn’t mind, I’d like to become a little branch in the Sonora recipe inheritance (my grandmother was also from Sonora, maybe it’s the same resipe, but I think I’ll never know)…talk it over, and I’ll do warm-up exercises and everything pa’aguantar la amasada..xoxo bon appetit!!

  2. Que bendición tu abuela! My dear Cris, este 2012, ya no? Before you see ME using a cain, and a little cup to put my dentures in….(Menopause started exactly a week ago, but I’m still standing!) Besos y abrazos mil!

  3. Yo me voy a aventurar la próxima semana a preparar unos tamalitos. Yo también tengo la receta de mi mama, que es de Sonora y quiero seguir la tradición. Así que ya te contare como es que me salieron. Los quería hacer esta semana pero no he tenido tiempo. He andado en la loca, pero me voy a dar un tiempito la próxima semana =)!!

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