On a Sunday morning, my landlady opened the foyer door and called out, “Miss?”
She does this sometimes because it’s easier than tapping on the door and waiting from me to run downstairs and unlock it.
Usually, she is bringing me food.
On this particular weekend, she and the family had been to a party to celebrate one of the grandchildren’s first communion. I had waved goodbye that evening when they left for church. Still, the possibility that there might be leftovers didn’t cross my mind . . .
. . . until she showed up the next morning with a plate of three–THREE!–kinds of tamales: green, red, and sweet.
I didn’t know about sweet tamales!
They were filled with dates, I think, and pecans, and some spice–cinnamon, probably. My landlady said a little coffee would go with it perfectly. She was right. It was scrumptious.
When I was little, my daddy would come home once in a blue moon with “hot tamales.” Those were Louisiana tamales. (What? How?? I’ll need to go to Natchitoches*, probably, to get to the bottom of that enigma.) They were too hot for little girls, even if we hadn’t been the pickiest eaters on the planet. But I remember my dad’s delight over the newspaper-wrapped package and his relish while eating and his pain from the heat of the spices.
Tamales could be found in cans on supermarket shelves in the 1970s. (They still are, in some places.) I don’t think we ever had any of those.
In the late 1980s, I went to work in a Tex-Mex restaurant, the first of several for me. I ate beans and tacos and nachos and guacamole. Later, much later, while working at another restaurant, I discovered tamales.
I loved them.
Oh, my goodness, here, in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico! I’m in tamale heaven.
I bought some at the Christmas market that were really big, wrapped in banana leaves, containing a piece of chicken with the bones! They were delicious. And the ones that my landlady shares with me, the ones her sister makes, well . . . I have no words.
Here in Torreón, there’s no Mardi Gras or Carnival celebration. If you “got the baby” from the King Cake (here known as Rosca de Reyes) on El Dia de Reyes (12th Night), you bring tamales on February 2 for Candlemas.
I missed that, but I’m going to ask my landlady to ask her sister if she will make tamales for me to eat on Fat Tuesday. I’m thinking they may be just what I need to take the place of the crawfish I won’t be having.
*For my friends outside Louisiana: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natchitoches,_Louisiana
Not my photo. Copied from Google Images.