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  • Malisa Payne

The Making of a Mexican Jarabe in the Kitchen

Breaking out into hysterical laughter while you are taught the ancient technique of tamale preparation is one the sweetest things indeed. My friends Lety and Leticia are of Mexican descent. My beautiful brown sisters wanted to have a tamale making party and when someone says the word party and then adds tamale, I’m there. Yes there was laughter; I’m talking a kind of warm, friendly, deep in your belly laughter. There is always laughter when I get together with these two women. Leticia generously said “invite some more people to join us, we can all learn together.” And that’s what we did.

A group of six of us gathered in my home to commence in the journey of tamale mastery. Oh and I haven’t even told you the best part yet; the outcome was 50 tamales for each of us to freeze and eat for months! In actuality they lasted one and half weeks for my family - though it did cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Now there wasn’t an actual hat dance in the kitchen, sorry to disappoint you, but things did heat up, and we did get sweaty.

The total process took nearly eight hours!

Tamale making is a skill not to be taken lightly but one that I think every person should know. We did a lot of taste testing towards the end to make sure we had perfected the recipe Lety shared with us that dated back several generations in her family. Yes it was magnifico!

But what was even more asombroso to me was the fact that we were partaking in a culinary tale that stretched back to another part of the world. I was even more touched knowing that I had acquired the treasure of pieces of that wonderful world in my relationships. The community we experienced that day, and every day we spend together, is familiar in Latin culture; working together, supporting each other, and living life closely are all characteristics of Latin culture. Joy, celebration, and relationship are the Hispanic way of life. Not to mention all the red and green tamale goodness and super sweet memories that kept us fat and happy for one and a half weeks...

and years to come.

Here is a great recipe if you want to have a tamale party yourself:


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