Tag Archives: chili

How To Make Hot Tamales

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It’s not about the recipe…

 

Making hot tamales is a process

First, you gather in a loved one’s kitchen

and find the well-worn recipe

Stir up the cornmeal, shortening and hot water

while you laugh about how

the generation before you used to

perform this same ritual

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Next it’s time

to roll the meat for the filling

and laugh some more

because somebody thought

the meat logs were funny

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Then comes the assembly line

of putting the cornmeal mixture

onto the tamale wrapper

sticking the meat log inside

and wrapping it all up

repeating until we’re done

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We congratulate each other

saying “these look like

they turnt out right” and

laughing about how

someone ended up with

cornmeal in her hair

Then it’s time to

boil them all up and

smother them in the chili

that’s been patiently waiting

And savor this

Belly-and-Soul-warming meal

seasoned with

Laughter

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Happy Fall, Y’all!

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Chilly weather, and chili weather…

My cousin Judy has lots of kitchen traditions she has built with her family over the years.  The first snowfall of the season always brings a homemade pie, for example.  For the last couple of years, Judy has opened her kitchen up for “Fall-Chili-And-Hot-Tamale-Making-Day”.  And we’ve already started talking about this year’s installment!  I can’t wait to spend time together, stirring the chili pot, making the mixtures of meat and meal, assembling those little packages of tamale goodness!  We share the work and then share the finished product, with me and anyone else who helped taking some home to enjoy later. And of course, we have to taste and see that what we made was good!  Quality control, after all.

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It reminds me of the times when Mama and “Mamaw” Allred, Aunt Martha, Aunt Ruby and/or any combination of them, would gather in someone’s kitchen to make tamales, or candy, or to can tomatoes and green beans in the summertime.  Shared work provided shared goodies, as well as lots of laughs and fun.  The foods they prepared nourished both body and soul.

I look forward to chili-and-hot-tamale-making-day, for the yummy food we hope to make.  But even more than the physical food, I look forward to the comfort of time spent together with Judy and whoever else can join us (both Reed and Jeff have helped in the past), carrying on the traditions of the generation before us.  And I think this year, cake may need to happen!

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