Around this time of year, I get sick of tamales. I’m not the only one either. My siblings get tired of hearing “tamales” every time we ask “what’s for breakfast?” (or lunch or dinner). Yes, there is such a thing as too many tamales… and I’m not referring to the Gary Soto kids book of the same title.
My family, like many other Mexican families makes tons of tamales. Well, not tons, but 20 pounds of masa (the cornmeal mix) worth. My mother, grandmother and another aunt got together on Thursday to make 200 tamales to feed about several families. The “tamalada” is a big production much like the Carmen Lomas Garza painting of the same name. The kids are charged with cleaning the “hojas” (cornhusk leaves). My grandmother was always the one making the meat and chile stuffing and then adding that stuffing to the tamales before folding them and stacking them like bricks in a giant pot. The other women, my mom and aunts, spread the masa all over the hojas.
Once all the mess of the tamalada is cleaned up and every aunt gets her share of tamales, my family is left with several dozen sweet, red chile and pork, and cheese and chile tamales waiting to be gobbled up as soon as they’re ready and we run out right around Three Kings Day.