Yesterday’s tamale-making event was an all-around success. Without even trying, we managed to compile an eclectic group of multi-generational participants ranging from our host family’s smallest child (of 11 months) to a well-traveled couple from the US that have several grown grandchildren of their own. Everyone worked together flawlessly to create some of the best tamales I’ve ever tasted. Since the majority of our participants were vegetarians, we substituted the animal fat for vegetable oil and the chicken for Oaxacan cheese, and ended up with tasty vegetarian versions of some local classics. Doña Juana and our guests liked our vegetarian version of the traditional “rajas” (pepper strips) tamale so much that she’s going to start making them to sell at the market. We’ll see if the general public shares our preference in upcoming weeks.
Check out our Facebook photo album here to see the rest of the photos from our event. We missed our friendly staff photographer Tra Hitt, but we did our best to capture some aesthetic shots throughout the day, although it involved a lot of hand-washing and rapid-fire transitions between the tamales and the camera.
The chickens roamed around the property throughout our experience, and various jokes were made about the sophistication of Juana and Lucio’s “state of the art composting machine” (a rabbit) as we handed our scraps over to be converted into fertilizer. Their turkey was majestic and imposing as ever, and made sure his presence was known to any/all who ventured to the bathroom. Our group brought along our own batch of kids to throw into the mix, and the children all played together happily and did their best to quietly evade us when it was time to set and clear the table. A lot of laughter was had as we shared travel stories and Espanglish peppered by an occasional dash of French. Before we left, we mapped out our collective ideas for future hands-on cooking experiences in the campo, so stay tuned.
The best part of the experience? Some times the simple things are the greatest gifts. We really enjoyed watching the hands. Hands of all sizes, colors, ages and stages separating squash blossoms and chepil leaves. Hands mixing the masa with the love and dedication of a potter for her/his clay. And hands collectively and carefully covering our creations with corn husks, ready to be cooked to perfection.
And of course, we won’t complain about the extra tamales we got to take home and heat up today for breakfast.