Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tamalada: A Mexican Christmas Tradition

It is official; I had experienced my first Tamalada just last night!  Although I’ve known of these before, I really had no inspiration whatsoever to attend one.  I am so glad I did!

The beauty of this tamalada was that it’s BYOF:  bring your own filling. Last night, we had a veggie filling, traditional pork and beef with green olives and jalapeños, flavorful pork tinga, green chili and habañero jack and another vegetarian variety that contained eggplant. Also, we sampled a sweet tamale with raisins, vanilla, and cinnamon, which was a great change of pace. It’s hard to imagine that one chef alone would come up with such a diverse cornucopia. Yes, drinks were flowing, but we still maintained some semblance of order (thanks to the hostess nudging us along) by having some people spread the masa on the husks and another group filling the tamales, folding them and prepping them to be cooked.  It was well worth the wait as we thoroughly enjoyed the “fruits of our labor”. 

Tamaladas are gatherings where people make tamales of all kinds.  This has been a Mexican tradition during the Christmas season since even before the Spanish conquest, which was in the 16th century! 

The Christmas season, which begins on December 16th, is celebrated in Mexico with great enthusiasm starting with “las posadas” which includes a group of nine evening events that vivify the pilgrimage that Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem, which also encompassed their search for shelter for themselves and baby Jesus.  So imagine that these recreations involved pilgrims that went from home to home requesting accommodations.  After these “posadas” are performed, they are then greeted with traditional foods that included tamales, pan dulces (sweet breads) and more.

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