My first effort at making them. You have to make them at home apparently, because restaurants just don't go to the trouble of making them fresh. I've missed having a good, fresh tamal ever since we left Mexico. These taste pretty damn good:
My son and his bride are here for a Mexican Christmas. He brought home-made chorizo and Sweet Tea Vodka. I guess we'll let them stay for tamales, pulled pork, tacos, corn casserole with queso panela, collard greens, key lime pie, and lots of tequila shots. No pinata, however. The tamales will have to serve as the "grab bag".
When we lived in Mexico City it was quite a treat to awaken of a Saturday morning to the sound of the Tamalero. Each tamalero had their own distinctive call. "Hay tamales!" (pronounced "eye tamales"), was the short, almost duck-like call of an older man. Another, a young boy, had lungs like Pavarotti and would hold out the longest wail of the word "tamales" for what seemed like a minute. It woud start low and work up to the third vowel for the air-siren finish as he let the word hang in the cool, clear air while he slid the last syllable down to the bottom of his range and breath. Amazing!
We always called them Mystery Meat Bags, but it was usually turkey mole (moh-lay) or pork, even if it was just one small strand of meat within, the tasty steamed corn mush with the green salsa or poblano sauce was a great way to start the chilly mornings of July. (They had pink ones, too, which were sweet and strange. Try as we might, we could never get the hang of sweet corn mush, be it cooked in a tamal or served as a mug of Atole; basically, corn mush with chocolate. )
People are surprised when I explain that we slept under an electric blanket for 11 months out of 12 there. A mile and a half up makes for interesting weather in the summer as the clouds of July gather daily for rain, and the air cools rapidly. It makes July the coolest averaged month of the year. So, a warm corn husk filled with freshly steamed little cakes of corn and mystery always made you look forward to good possibilities for the rest of the day.