Tamale Whatever


When we were kids, my parents would take us to visit cousins in Richmond, California.  The two things I remembered about these visits were the mosquitoes and the tamales.  The mosquitoes were enormous, science fiction mutants and after an hour of running around in the garden, our bodies were streaked with blood from their bites.


The tamales were rich, thick and spicy with a tomatoey pork sauce and just enough of the masa harina corn to hold the filling.  They were hand made by a neighborhood “Mamacita”, loaded into a hand truck with steamer and sold from door to door.   What a difference between these authentic tamales and the ones you are served in restaurants today with a thick tube of corn and a slick of meat sauce!  Bleah!  I never order tamales at restaurants.  That said, I totally failed at making the tamale filling!  From the beginning, I didn’t intend to make wrapped tamales (no masa harina here and corn husks), but just to duplicate the texture and flavor of the filling.  Didn’t do it.  I made a good tasting, Mexican inspired filling but it wasn’t a tamale filling 🙁


I couldn’t find dried chillies anywhere in town and this might have been part of the reason for my unsuccessful recipe.  Instead I used a chili paste from Tunisia, an harissa.


To add insult to injury, I hated the pictures I took.  The one above looks like something from My Dad’s Lunch.  Maybe a sailboat in a sea of pork 😀

Anyway, no recipe.  So why am posting?  For the sheer delight of saying, so what 🙂

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Tamale Whatever

  1. Mad Dog says:

    I would think it still tasted good with harissa, but probably not very Mexican. There used to be a small Mexican shop in London selling masa harina, smoked chillies, etc., but it closed down. There are some online stores, but it’s not quite the same and not very spontaneous.

  2. gingy55 says:

    Reblogged this on jenniesfoodblog and commented:
    I love you’re post and your story! Sometimes what seems to us an ‘epic fail’ turns out to be perfection. Thanks for your story. How’d it taste? Scrumptious I’d imagine, enough at least, to bring back good memories!

  3. gingy55 says:

    Excellent post! Sometimes what we look at as an ‘epic fail’ is just the perfect thing. Thanks for your great story. Just one question, how’d it taste?

  4. So what indeed?! Still looks good to me 🙂

  5. Trish says:

    haha! I love My dad’s lunch. what a very cool creative dad! you know, for some reason I always assumed the blogger was male, but it’s a woman. I don’t know why i assumed that!

  6. Hey, not every culinary adventure is a successful one! It probably still turned out to be delicious :-). Thanks for sharing!

  7. Arisa Mameda says:

    All food look so delicious! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  8. ghetran says:

    haha! 😉 My husband dries chilli in the kitchen. Buy them fresh from the Asian store, then dry them on the counter. 😉

  9. Nadia says:

    Thanks for sharing. We all have those dishes that we are not really proud of.

  10. Here’s a link to an on line Mexican store ( in France so quick delivery)
    http://www.casamex.fr/ ….I know as much about Mexican food as do about quantum physics(is there such a thing) and the only thing that sticks in my mind is that Mexico feature in one version of the three biggest lies and relates to London …”I know a good TexMex restaurant”:)

  11. Hhmm delicious 🙂

  12. Your “epic fail” looks pretty yummy. But I get what you mean. There are times I look at my dish and think that is not what I was going for!

  13. thehungrymum says:

    My family would love this! I HATE it when the photos don;t turn out right – so frustrating.

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