Today’s KIOS Blog-A-Thon prompt is a bit different. Blog-A-Thon hosts Shannon and Jamie have no power as they were hit by a powerful ice storm. Nonetheless, they send this prompt: “We still have no phone, no Internet, but from my phone we thought we’d ask you to share a story, a tip or a strategy of a holiday disaster”.
Well, I don’t have any Christmas natural disaster stories, or holiday ham fiascos. However, what I do have to offer for this prompt is… TAMALES!
Our family tradition has been to make tamales the weekend before Christmas (mas o menos). As a kid I remember a lot of people being there to help out. I have 5 brothers and 3 sisters, so they were there, along with their partners or spouses, as well as their kids. I remember dreading the process, and feeling like it took all day. The majority of us spread the masa on the corn husks while my dad and mom filled them with pork and placed them in large pots to steam.
I don’t know how many pounds of masa was used or how many tamales were made, but dozens of tamales were given to those who helped, neighbors, co-workers, friends of the family, and family members. As for us, our meals from Christmas until New Years Day looked like this:
So where is the disaster here? Well, every year, my dad either runs out of masa or filling. When you buy too little masa, buying more isn’t always easy. The local stores are packed with people buying masa. When this happens you’re stuck with a glitch in the matrix. Production slows down and the new masa may or not be s good as the previous batch. Oh the dilemna.
When too much masa is the problem, the solution can be quite…well…interesting. My dad will go through the refrigerator and pantry and fill the remaining tamales with whatever he can find. Cheese is usually the first go to, then things get desperate. Hot dogs, mixed veggies, anything is possible.
This tradition has changed over time with family members passing away and moving. The assembly line has broken up into smaller productions in different towns. My dad holds fast to this tradition, and every yer he says “Este es en ultimo año que voy hace tamales” (This is the last year I am making tamales). But every year he makes them and has them delivered to family members across California. I asked him why he keeps this tradition up despite not having a lot of people around to help out. My dad told me that because he grew up so poor, he felt very grateful to be able to make so much food to share. As a kid growing up on the border of Juarez and El Paso, my dad didn’t have a gift giving Christmas. Instead he remembers going to the more communal festivities of Las Posadas where he would get an orange, a tamale, some peanuts, and a cup of atole. He said he remembers being so happy about receiving these foods. For my dad, making tamales is his way of paying respects to his past and being grateful to his present.
Here’s wishing our KIOS Blog-A-Thon hosts, and everyone, a warm holiday, full bellies
If you’d like to participate in this Blog-A-Thon, please visit: http://kickinitoldskool.blogspot.com/2013/11/get-ready-to-ruuumbbbllleee.html