Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The tradition runs deep in the Latino collective memory since tamales predate most of western “civilization”. Tamales can be traced back as early as 5000 BC. They were served as a nutritious and portable food for Aztec, Mayan, and Incan warriors. It is understood that the Aztecs greeted their incoming conquerors with the tightly wrapped festival food. Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent celebrate by sharing this tradition of generosity and good will by making and then giving out tamales as gifts.
If you have never done it it’s quite a process. Soak the leaves, dry them, and sort them. Manteca and your hands in the messy masa to get just the right consistency, it’s an art in itself. Then make the filling, whatever you wish. Tradition for some says de vendado as a friend reminded me and then started the debate about border town puerco and red sauce and is it true that pina and cinnamon are now called nouvelle/fusion/ pochada tamales? All I know was that it was messy, creative, and lots of fun! I felt like I was home.
When we figured out the right consistency, we were ready to spread the masa, add the filling, roll, tie in a bundle, and steam. We each shared memories of making them and tried to remember the tips from elders about each step. Thanks to ancestors our tamalada gave us several dozen to share among us. As the TexMex music continued to play in the background and the kitchen was filled with leaves, masa, and the smell of garlic and fresh steamed tamales; we sat back and smiled. We realized we had done a good job; it had been our turn to keep the tradition alive.
Happy holidays to you and yours….and I wish you peace, love, and TAMALES!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Mexicans and those of Mexican ancestry everywhere celebrated La Virgen Morena or La Virgen de Guadalupe, aka Tonatzin, Mother of all Gods, who appeared before an indigenous man the Spanish named Juan Diego on the Cerro de Tepeyac one December day in 1531. Her image was forever imprinted on the cloth tilma he was wearing as proof of her visit.
Whether or not you're a believer, one thing is clear the weight of Guadalupe in Mexican culture. She is omnipresent not only in the spiritual sense but in the concrete sense. Her image graces nearly every home altar, taqueria, and tienda; anywhere her people are, you will find Guadalupe. She is seen as the leader of the oppressed and hope where there is none. Children dress in traditional clothing and reenact the scene and many artists celebrate her in their work.
Home garden altar
Guad Art Car
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Attended the opening of the show which celebrated 50 years with 50 past winners, it was a good time seeing old friends and celebrating art!