I grew up on tamales in San Antonio, Texas. When i was a kid my grandmother, my mom and my sister Rachel would make tamales. For Christmas we would eat tamales on Christmas Eve, that was our delicious traditional Christmas Eve meal. On New Year’s Eve we would eat tamales, that was our traditional New Year’s Eve meal. Funny story to share with you, one year a man invited to New York for New Years Eve celebration and I said “no” because I did not want to miss out on eating tamales New Year’s Eve. Those Ruben’s tamales were delicious and it was not everyday we had tamales. I would get so happy when we would occasionally go buy hot tamales at Rubens tamales or at Karen tamales. Those were the good days of beef, pork, sweet (raisin and pineapple) and bean tamales. We would buy an extra dozen so that we could eat on the way home. People change and taste change but culture and heritage NEVER changes it just adapts.
Tamale making starts with the base, the foundation the masa to make the tamales and put the filling into. The grocery stores typically in the baking isle sell the dry masa you mix ingredients with. Some stores sell the masa already made ready to spread on the corn husks. The masa is the tamale dough out of corn flour product. I walked into Vallarta grocery store in Burbank, California one day a couple of years ago and was amazed at the various colors of tamale masa. The various colors of tamale masa were not only in stock for seasonal Christmas tamale making, these various colors of tamale masa are available year round. This is fantastic I thought as I looked at the various tamale masa colors. September is the perfect month to start discovering NEW tamale flavors and trying them out. When I am going to cook bake for a holiday or an occasion I like to cook the food item before to do a trail run and see how the product turns out. I realize that we might not have access to Vallarta grocery store or the various tamale masa colors however we can make our own. The good thing is that some Mexican stores actually sell the tamale masa made therefore just adding some food coloring and flavors to the tamale masa is needed. Various internet recipes are available on the internet therefore I will not confine you to one. You can explore the internet to find a tamale recipe that you like.
Tamale filling possibilities are endless you can choose a meat, vegetable, fruit or cheese. Let me suggest some NEW tamales that maybe you have not tasted or heard of. Pink tamale masa or Red tamale masa would be a good idea for strawberries (frozen or fresh) with mascarpone cheese. If you want to add some bubbly then how about adding champagne to your strawberry mascarpone cheese pink tamale masa tamales. Bright yellow tamale masa would be great for Black Bean tamales with Mexican Queso Fresco. Purple tamale masa would be awesome for some salmon and lavender flavored tamales. Green tamale masa would be a good idea for lamb with mint tamales. Mint flavor can also be added to the green tamale masa. Whole Foods grocery store sells an awesome Elderflower and Mint mineral water you could put in the lamb meat. Yellow tamale masa is the traditional color of tamale masa. Beef, Chicken, Pork, Beans and Cheese, are just some of the traditional tamale flavors. You can put any filling into the tamales that you want. I once tasted the Sweet Potato tamales and they were delicious. My favorite tamales to eat with coffee in the mornings are the Sweet tamales made with raisins and pineapple in the traditional yellow tamale masa mix. The possibilities are endless when making tamales because can make the traditional tamales or NEW tamales. You can flavor your base, the tamale masa with anything that you want from spices to lavender to elderflower to mint to pineapple to tequila, champagne or wine.
In conclusion, culture and heritage does not change it just adapts. When making tamales the basic think are: Taste, of tamale masa along with tamale filling and remember bakery supply stores sell food flavors. Color Contrast, use food coloring if necessary, i like Gel food coloring and many bakery supply stores have a wide variety of food colors available. Food Presentation, what type of plate, container or tray will you be placing food on. I want to be able to take my culture and my heritage with me in years as I go in years. I do not want to leave my culture and/or my heritage behind as I move on. Tamale masa colors change and new tamale fillings are discovered but tamales are still here. Culture and Heritage is part of a person. My grandmother had beef tacos back in the day and i eat beef tacos, however more variety of tacos are available. Today, fish tacos are popular all over. My mom ate pinto bean and cheese tamales and i still eat some of those tamales. Today black bean and queso fresco tamales are a food gourmet item. You see culture and heritage does not change it just adapts and these various tamale masa and flavors are proof. Wow, I am hungry just thinking about all the tamale varieties.