Have you ever been so over-saturated with a food that you can no longer bear to look at it anymore? That’s the way I feel about tamales, today. I had the same feeling after working the graveyard shift sorting strawberries at a packing house. The plump red fragrant berries I sorted through on the conveyor belt became cold lumps of tan coal by six o’clock the following morning. My fingers were a wrinkled stained berry mess. I didn’t eat strawberries for a couple of years.
My family, from my six year old niece to my 80 plus year old mom, sat at the kitchen table for six hours, spreading masa on the corn husks, stuffing pasilla chile sauce and pork into dozens of ojas. We did the same for the roast chicken and tomatillo sauce, and the strips of California green chile and Pepper Jack shredded cheese. These were stacked in the steamer pots, either basketweave style or standing up, and cooked for two or three hours, depending on whether they went into my sister’s ‘good’ steamer or the traditional pot. By the end of the night I had to take ibuprofen for the back pain.
We used 30 pounds of masa. When you realize that one pound makes one dozen tamales, give or take a couple, that translates to 30 dozens of tamales, or
One the second day I divide and bag the tamales for everyone who participated in making them the day before. We usually take some to people we visit or who visit us on the day after Christmas. On this fourth day after tamale making, it’s hard to even look at one without wrinkling my nose. The kids want soy chorizo and tofu, or eggs and chorizo, cereal, toaster waffles, anything but tamales. This morning I looked into the refrigerator for the half and half. We still had one cookie sheet stacked with tamales. I couldn’t look at them any longer. If we have a fifth day, I’ll surely retch when I open the refrigerator.
Lucky for me I stocked up on aluminum foil and had freezer bags. I wrapped those puppies up, stuffed them in the bags and labeled them “Tamales,” with a blue Sharpie. I don’t care if I don’t see another tamale for six months, but it’s good to know that when my overload wears off I’ll have some ready to pop in the oven.