A few months back, my daughter, Heather, brought home some outstanding tamales for dinner…
…her buddy’s Kadillac tamales (chicken, spinach, jalapeño, cream cheese)!
They were incredible! (BTW, Tamale Boy is located at 5400 S. Flores, SA.)
I remember when I first came to San Antonio from NY in ’93. Now, NY has probably every type of cuisine under the sun…and some truly-legitimate restaurants serving them!
And, yes, there are plenty of Mexican…as well as the more-familiar Tex-Mex…places across the city. However, while I certainly had heard of tamales, I never really tasted one!
(FYI, Tex-Mex is well-known for nachos, fajitas, burritos, chimichangas (deep-fried burritos) & really, any dish that contains beef, wheat flour, black beans or yellow cheese. Cumin is found in practically every Tex-Mex food.
True, legitimate Mexican food, on the other hand, uses white cheese and instead of cumin, utilizes chili peppers, oregano & cilantro. And Mexican cuisine varies greatly, depending on the region where it originated. And consistent with its long & rich history (including eras of colonization), you’ll often notice Spanish, African & Asian influences in Mexican cuisine.)
It must’ve been a few years later, after I had “settled in”, when I was in CitiPhone & one of the ladies was selling tamales. I figured, “What the hell? Let’s see what everyone’s raving about!”
I bought a dozen from her…6 chicken, 6 pork.
I gave away 10 of them & kept one of each for myself.
Hidden away in the dark confines of my office, I started digging into the pork tamale first.
“Man, I must’ve gotten one that’s undercooked or sumthin’! Lemme try the other one.”
One bite into the chicken tamale…and same exact deal!
WTH is going on here?!?
I mean, people are CONSTANTLY raving about these tamale contraptions. I see them on sale at H-E-B (THE supermarket in Texas). They’re the absolute rage everywhere around the holidays.
I really started to question the sanity of my people…as well as the validity of the entire San Antonio culinary community here…with their over-the-top praise for these thingies.
I put up the white flag outside my office…I surrendered.
Just then, one of the gracious ladies came to my rescue! (I say “gracious” as she didn’t immediately go down to Security to have me thrown out of the building nor did she use the intercom to share my, er, faux pas across the entire campus!)
Yes, I thought the husk was part of the dish!!!
Even to this day (and I’ve had my fair share of these wonderful delicacies, trust me), I often wonder why the treasure inside is, er, “rather small”.
I’m like, If you’re gonna wrap up something so delicious to eat, make it big & hearty!
Ya know, like a giant sausage size.
But, now, I really do love my tamales! In fact, I just had a dozen pork ones from H-E-B for dinner the other night, smothered with green salsa!
“Wow, this stuff is like chewing straw or a hand-woven placemat! It certainly needs to be cooked more!”
Damn stupid gringo!!!
*tries hard to think up some embarrassing food moments that others had in order to offset the constant cackling sounds in his ears*
*doesn’t like speaking in the third person, but he does it nevertheless*
All right, here’s one that’s not really embarrassing, but it certainly threw Laurie for a loop…
While we were still dating, Laurie came over for Sunday dinner. My Mom did her usual thing.
Now, Laurie was never, ever a big eater. 5’7″ & probably 115 lbs, she was long & lean. Hell, when she was pregnant with Heather, I think she gained ~20 lbs altogether!
Unless she was standing sideways, it was difficult to tell that she was even with child.
And Heather weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz at birth & was delivered full-term. (Laurie has a C-section…I don’t know how to spell “Caesarean”…and I remember when I saw my daughter for the very first time.)
The nurse brought her out of the operating room to show me & I was TOTALLY SHOCKED!!!
She had some really-beautiful blond hair (still does), but what really surprised me was the “condition” she was in!
“Are you sure this is MY baby? She looks at least 3 months old!!!”
I was prepared to see a tiny li’l infant who had just undergone some long, strenuous journey through the birth channel, getting squished & squeezed along the way. (Yes, I know what a C-section is, but my brain was temporarily out of commission. And the doctor finally decided on the procedure after a few hours of labor.)
Heather looked like she has just woken up from a short nap.
Greatest thing I’ve ever seen, or will ever see, in my entire life! ❤️ 👶 😍
Oh, and BTW, I (we) named her after Heather Locklear (“Amanda” on Melrose Place, “Sammy Jo” on Dynasty, “Caitlin” on Spin City, main character in countless dreams of mine), despite Laurie’s claim that “we got the idea from some flowers in a painting of the Scottish countryside, hanging in the birthing room”!
Maybe she did, but I didn’t! I didn’t even know what heather looked like until Al Gore invented the internet.
So, out came the macaroni & gravy (What is this “pasta & sauce” nonsense? 😡) and I was totally shocked…just as I would be ~6 years later in the Maternity Ward at Maimonides Hospital…when Laurie finished an entire bowl!!!
She seemed so proud of herself, as if she just completed the NY Marathon & broke the women’s division record by 5 minutes!
But the look on her face changed 😱when my Mom took away everyone’s dirty bowls…
…and brought out a few mountains of meatballs, sausage, pork bracciole, chicken and a roast beef!!!
And a salad.
I really thought Laurie was gonna cry, faint or both.
I reassured her that since she just ate a whole week’s worth of food (for her & her bird appetite), no one (including my Mom) was gonna get insulted.
She may have eaten (played with) a meatball.
OK, that’s it!
Thank you so very much for listening!