¡Verde, Te Quiero Verde! Detox Stew

Our bodies are feeling the need for some clean food. Using winter veggies, this super green stew is a seasonal riff on our Caldo de Quinoa (p. 106). By roasting the vegetables in the oven, this stew highlights the flavor of the carrots, chayote, and potato. The vegetables and quinoa are then served with sautéed chard in a bath of a deep green cilantro broth. So much green!
You can use whatever veggies you have in the fridge. Be creative. I think what makes this stew unique is the green cilantro bath it is served in. Enjoy.

Te Quiero Verde Stew

Te Quiero Verde Stew

Ingredients:
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
 3 garlic cloves, minced
 1/2 habanero, minced
 1/2 tsp ground coriander
 1/2 tsp ground cumin
 1/2 salt
 1/4 white pepper
 1 tbsp olive oil
 1 chayote, peeled, seeded, and diced
 7 small rainbow carrots, scrubbed and cut into rounds
 1 red potato, diced
 1 white onion, cut in half and then sliced into thin ribbons
 1 bunch rainbow chard
 1 clove garlic, minced
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1/2 bunch cilantro, including stems
 1/2 habanero
 salt and pepper to taste
 1 avocado, cut in chunks
 2 green onions, finely diced
 1 lime
Directions
Preheat over to 325 degree F.
In a molcajete, mash together garlic, habanero, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add olive oil and use pestle to create a paste. Combine chayote, carrots, potato, and onion with garlic/olive oil mixture and place in a glass dish.
Slow roast veggies at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables cook through but chayote remains somewhat crisp.
Remove stems from chard, dice stems, and cut chard greens into ribbons. Add olive oil to medium sized pot on medium heat and add stems. Cook for 5 minutes or so until stems are tender. Add garlic and stir to release fragrance. Add chard greens and cook until greens have wilted. In a blender, combine 3 cups water, cilantro, and 1/2 habanero and blend. Add roasted vegetables, quinoa, and cilantro water to the pot with the chard. Add omore water if necessary. Bring mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. Don't cook too long or you will lose the beautiful green color! Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve stew topped with chunks of avocado, green onions, and squeeze of lime.

10 DYD Holiday Shopping Ideas (with links)

With the winter holidays upon us, you might be thinking about gifts for your friends, familia, and activist comrades. We thought we'd share these ideas with you.

 

DYD Gift Basket

DYD Gift Basket

 

1. A gift basket with a cookbook, or a few of your favorite recipes, and some ingredients—
When Catriona's nephew Cisco moved into his own apartment, his mom Christine wrote out family recipes for chile beans, green chile stew, and red chile enchiladas. She used index cards, and gave the recipes with ingredients and a mixing spoon. Contents of gift basket in above photo are Rancho Gordo Vaquero BeansAncient Agro Vermicilli for making fideoGold Mine Organic Masa Harina, and a small package of epazote.
2. Gift a few jars filled with organic beans, pumpkin or chia seeds, amaranth, quinoa, etc—
Use recycled jars or buy ball jars, used for canning, at the hardware store. In the canning section, they sell plastic lids for canning jars which are excellent if you are using your jars to store dried goods. Make labels with the product packaging or make your own.
3. Gift small jars filled with dried herbs, dried flowers, spices: Mexican oregano, Epazote, Cumin, Coriander, Dried Chipotle Chile Powder, Bay Leaves, Vanilla Beans, Hibiscus flowers, etc—
We like Spicely Herbs as they come in small quantities and have organic options. Another online source that has a great reputation is Mountain Rose Herbs. Mountain Rose Herbs sells organic hibiscus flowers for making jamaica or tacos.
You could also mix up a blend of spices, like the ones we use for Chicana Power Chile Beans (p. 111), which includes cumin, coriander, allspice, oregano, ground ancho chile, cayenne, and paprika.
4.  For a friend that likes sweet breakfasts, support White Earth Land Recovery Project with a gift of wild rice pancake mix and maple syrup—
5. A crock pot is a great gift—
We are big advocates of inexpensive, simple models....they last forever and do the job. Read the reviews online to get ideas and then buy locally: This one is small. This one is larger. You can also find crock pots at your hardware store, drug store, flea market, or thrift store. Our current crockpot came from a thrift and we've been using it for five years, after our fancier one broke.
6. If you think the person is willing, a tortilla press is not too expensive, readily available and a thoughtful gift—
Luz recently lost their tortilla press. I know, how is that even possible!?!  We just bought this model and we like it. You can find tortilla presses, including this model or something similar, at your local Mexican market or online.
Gift the tortilla press with instructions for making corn tortillas (p. 155) and tlacoyos (p. 138 and 141).
7. For something really special, give your loved one a molcajete—
Buy a vintage molcajete on ebay for about $30 or a new one at your local Mexican market.
8. For the young ones, children's books—
9. Inspire with Chicanx Artwork—
Support contemporary artists and share their work with loved ones. These artists have reasonably priced prints and posters for sale.
10. Last but not least, we think our book makes a thoughtful gift this season—
Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing  Link to A/K press, who is distributing our book online. Or ask at your local bookstore or online purveyor.
————————————————————————
Check our Resources page for additional ideas of where to source these and other products and ingredients.

Luz’s Early Summer Potato Salad with Verdolagas

A seasonal salad for late spring when verdolgas (purslane) are popping up and new potatoes are plentiful. This salad is combined with radishes, shallot, and pumpkin seeds and then dressed with an herbaceous lemon vinaigrette. Perfect picnic salad.  For those that eat eggs, I think this salad would be nice with a few chopped hardboiled eggs.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

10-12 small yukon gold potatoes, boiled and quartered (“new” potatoes, if possible)

1 cup purslane, leaves only

5-8 radishes, thinly sliced

2 shallots, minced

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

Vinaigrette

1 small handful chives, roughly chopped

1 small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

Chive blossoms, if available

Combine salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.  Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse to combine until herbs are small even flecks distributed in the dressing. Toss dressing with salad. Taste and adjust salt and pepper levels, if needed.   Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Serve garnished with chive blossoms.

Potato Salad with Purslane

Potato Salad with Purslane

 

Colonial Pastoral as Indigenous Protest

In our research, we found an image of an indigenous figure harvesting herbs [fig 1].

Codex-herbgatherer

 

Taken from the Codex Osuna (c. 1565), the larger image of the “herb gatherer” in context appears to be a colonial pastoral scene of a Spaniard directing his laborers [fig 2].

Codex-herbgatherer

However, the Codex Osuna was sent to the Spanish crown by indigenous leader to protest that colonial administrators are forcing labor from and committing “wage theft” against the indigenous people. Thus this image is the documentation of Spaniards stealing the labors of the indigenous peoples without recompense. It is indigenous protest art.

Report Back on Native American Cuisine Class

Last night we had the amazing opportunity to attend an event at the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland. The event was sponsored by The Cultural Conservancy and organized by our colleague, Melissa Nelson (Turtle Mountain Chippewa). We were honored and humbled to be part of this evening of deep cultural sharing and knowledge. We thought we’d share a brief “report back” on the event for those who couldn’t attend.

We heard from two native chefs, Lois Ellen Frank, PhD (Kiowa) and Walter Whitewater (Diné [Navajo]).

Chefs Walter Whitewater and  Lois Ellen Frank

Chefs Walter Whitewater and Lois Ellen Frank

The two chefs prepared a meal for the participants, with Dr. Frank giving a cooking demo and talk.

Here’s some of what is in our notes:

TEK: Traditional Ecological Knowledge. This is specific to our tribes and locations, but we all have it, can share it, can learn it from one another.

Lois Ellen Frank spoke of the trade that native peoples had before colonization: those who hunted bison traded with those who farmed corn. Native folks did not only eat their local foods, but participated in trade across the Americas, for thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans.  She described the discovery that Chaco Canyon functioned as one of many important sites of trade…. she said they even found quinoa residues in some pots in Chaco Canyon, which would means that trade networks went all the way to Andean civilizations! Also found were quetzal feathers, chocolate, and abalone.

Dr. Frank took up the term “decolonizing our diets” and explained what that means to her. She made a really good point that decolonization is not necessarily about getting rid of everything that colonizers brought because some of those things have become part of contemporary native cultures and identities, and that people have found was to incorporate these items in ways that are deeply life-affirming. She gave the example of sheep for the Navajo. She said that trying to take the sheep away from the Navajo would “make them cry.” She did say that decolonization was about being mindful about what aspects of European foods and food practices we should incorporate. And, she spoke eloquently against white foods (white four, white sugar, etc.) and encouraged us to remember “brown is beautiful” when we shop. She advocated a plant-based diet, with an emphasis on “eating the rainbow.”  She highlighted the beauty of all the plants that are native to the Americas: beans, corn, squash, chiles, purslane (a.k.a. Indian lettuce or verdolagas, more omega-3s than salmon!), wild herbs, wild onions, wild garlic, and more.

Dr. Frank pointed out that the real problem (in terms of food) came not so much with the initial contact and incorporation of some European plants and livestock, but rather when native communities were dislocated from their traditional food supplies and forced to subsist on US government rations. This change, as we all know, has had disastrous impact on the health of native folks and our communities. For her, the goal is to reclaim the ancestral practices and knowledge from before the period of rations.

Dr. Frank told a funny story about the way that “chile peppers” were named. The real word is chile (from the nahuatl word chilli) but Columbus was supposed to be finding a source for pepper. So he told the queen he had found a new kind of “pepper”: the chile. Of course our chiles, which grow on a bush and are perennials, have nothing to do with pepper(corns) which grows on a tree. But Columbus’s lie took and our glorious chiles are now known as chile peppers. She pointed out that, like salt, chile has played an important role in preserving meat, protecting it from bacteria during the drying process.  Eating chile releases endorphins (like exercise, or eating chocolate).

We really appreciated how mindful she was about the need to eat well, even on a small budget. She had some concrete suggestions, such as buying fresh herbs and then drying the leftovers for use later. Or waiting for berries to go on sale, and then stocking up. She emphasized the importance of learning how to read food labels, to pay attention to serving size, to be aware that “natural” on the label doesn’t mean “no sugar added.”

This was the menu:

Stew Course

Hominy Corn Harvest Stew with summer squash (picked just the day before) and hominy made from white, blue, and red corn, seasoned with azafrán (Native American saffron).

Salad Course

Baby Salad Greens with spicy chile pecans, cherry tomatoes, garden carrots, and fresh cucumbers in a fresh lemon and herb salad dressing (lovage, pineapple sage, mint, chives).

Main Course

Wild Caught Native Salmon with a fresh berry reduction and served with roasted beets, roasted potatoes, and wild purslane greens

Dessert Course

Baked Berry Crisp made from fresh blackberries, raspberries & strawberries served with Native harvested chokecherry syrup and homemade canela whipped cream

Copies of THE POWER TO HEAL DIABETES: FOOD FOR LIFE IN INDIAN COUNTRY were distributed (book and dvd). You can view the videos at www.thepowerplate.org.   The booklet features recipes by Chef Lois Ellen Frank including Hominy Corn Harvest Stew and Indian No-Fry Bread.

We’ll post a few recipes on the Facebook page in the next few days.

Lois Ellen Frank is the author of Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations (Ten Speed Press).

Tropical Fruit Vinegars

For millenia, fermentation has been a primary method of preserving foods and of introducing nutrients.

Throughout the Americas, there is a strong tradition of making fruit vinegars, using either pineapples or bananas. These fruit vinegars make a delicious condiment and have many of the health giving properties widely attributed to raw apple cider vinegars.

Health Benefits:

  • Fermented beverages and fruit vinegars have healthful properties similar to kombucha. They are rich in probiotics that promote a healthy immune system, acting as a natural antibiotic.
  • Fermented products promote healthy bacteria in the stomach, which aids digestion.

Francisco Jiménez, a food artisan from Costa Rica, prepares and sells his raw vinegars at the Phat Beets farmer’s market in North Oakland. Phat Beets is a justice-centered farmer’s market, bringing real food to working people and providing space for workshops on sustainable food for all. We attended one of Francisco’s workshops, where he taught how to make traditional fruit vinegars only the ripe fruit—no added sugars. We’ll share methods for making vinegar from ripe bananas. Note that bananas were present in the Americas before colonization, although most of the bananas we consume today are of the type that originated in Asia. Francisco describes small red bananas as making the most exquisite vinegar.

Francisco is featured in this article as a “fruit hacker.”

Francisco-2Phat-beets-Ad-Francisco'sVinegars1

Ad for one of Francisco’s workshops. He presents regularly on heritage fermentation.

You can purchase Francisco’s vinegars at the

  • North Oakland Farmers Market @Destiny Arts Center Grace @Lowell St, Oakland Ca. 94608
  • Every Saturday from 9:30am to 2:30pm
  • Still on SALE! Francisco’s Paradiso Raw Fresh Vinegars ONLY $11!
  • Francisco’s Paradiso Raw Fresh Vinegars! Made from all-natural ingredients from local fruit trees and farmers market produce, these delicious Costa Rican Vinegars come in Pineapple, Banana, Red Onion & Garlic and Sauerkraut! Only $11 each bottle!

Banana Vinegar

Bananas must be ripe, ideally overripe: that is, no green on skin. Bananas that are mostly brown are perfect. 2 cups of peeled and cut bananas will yield 1 cup of delicious vinegar.

Ingredients:

  • •Two bunches of very ripe bananas
  • •Time (3-6 months)

Peel bananas. (Compost the skins.)  Mash or puree the fruit.  Put in a glass or ceramic jar. Fill jar about ¾ of the way. Cover jar with cheesecloth. Place the jar in a large bowl, because the vinegar may foam up and overflow the jar. You don’t want to lose the overflow.  Just pour it from the bowl back into the jar.

The fruit will start to separate into liquid and solids. We started this vinegar on July 27. Here it is after just two weeks.

banana-vinegar3

Over the course of the fermentation, the brew change colors. the fruit pulp will looks strange and funky.Don’t be concerned: it’s all part of the process.The fermenting vinegar will draw fruit flies, and some may even get through the cheesecloth in to the vinegar itself. Some vinegars may even have larvae among the fruit pulp. Don’t worry about them. Fruit flies are very clean – they only go from fruit to fruit. When it comes time to harvest it, you’ll just strain that all out.

You can harvest the banana vinegar at four months, but it’s better at six months.

When you harvest it, strain out all the fruit pulp. The first straining may seems a bit chaotic: all kinds of crazy stuff will be strained out. Don’t worry. Compost the solids. Strain your vinegar again. Francisco strains his vinegar seven times to make the finest, clearest medicinal quality vinegar. It is potent for about a year and then it starts to lose its potency and will turn to water. You can refrigerate it to stop the fermentation process.

How to use the vinegar: You can take this vinegar as a tonic, as it is alive and full of beneficial properties, similar to apple cider vinegar or kombucha. This vinegar brings its bright flavor to salad dressings or drizzled over vegetables. You can also use these vinegars to make a quick curtido: add chopped garlic, sliced onions, grated carrots, slivered cabbage, chile, and oregano.

Flavoring: After the vinegar is done, you can flavor it with herbs. We like to add some yerbanis (pericón, Mexican mint marigold) to the vinegar and allow it to set for one week and then strain.

Bebida de Tibicos: Water Kefir

Here at Decolonize Your Diet, we look at the health benefits provided by the preColumbian foods of the Americas. We’ve recently started looking at traditional beverages.

There are more than 200 fermented beverages in Latin America that pre-date European contact.  These include pulque (fermented from agave honey), pozol (fermented corn porridge), atole agrio (fermented atole with chile), tesgüino (fermented water from germinated corn), chicha (beer made from corn, quinoa, amaranth, yuca, or palm fruit), colonche (fermented prickly pear juice), chorote (fermented drink made from corn and roasted cacao beans), native fruit wines (capulin, jocote, chirimoya, guanábana, pitahaya, timbiriche) and tepache (fermented pineapple).

These fermented drinks range from fizzy and fruity to alcoholic, and from clear to porridge-like.  Some had spiritual significance, others were for everyday consumption, some were for medicinal purposes, and others for general health and well-being.

Today we’d like to focus on bebida de tibicos, or water kefir, a fermented, naturally fizzy drink that originates in Mexico. As with kombucha, fermentation is initiated by a microorganism culture, in this case the tibicos granillos or hard granules that grow on cactus paddles. Tibicos is traditionally brewed at home in Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil using a sugar solution with figs. Note: One species of figs, amate figs are indigenous to the Americas.

Health Benefits
  • Fermented beverages and fruit vinegars are rich in probiotics which promote a healthy immune system, acting as a natural antibiotic.
  • Fermented products promote healthy bacteria in the stomach, which aids digestion.
  • Research suggests that kombucha is beneficial to diabetics, promoting insulin production and protecting the liver against damage (Srihari 2013, Aloulou 2012, Bhattacharya 2011, 2013). Preliminary animal studies involving water kefir suggest that tibicos also lowers glucose levels. (Alsayadi 2014)
  • Tibicos is very safe to ferment at home, under non-sterile conditions because it creates a specific environment in which pathogens cannot survive (Reiß 1990)
How to Make Bebida de Tibicos

First, you will need your starter kefir grains. They are available online or  at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco or at Pollinate in Oakland. Once you buy them, they will last forever and reproduce. You’ll have some to give away. (I often have extras so hit me up if you can pick up in Oakland.)  I bought mine online at yemoos: http://www.yemoosmarket.com/genuine-live-water-kefir-grains.html.

Water kefir goes through two ferments.

Instructions:
  1. In a mason jar, mix 1/4 cup sugar in one quart water then add the water kefir grains to the sugar mixture. .  Add one or more of the following to help your ferment: A drizzle of molasses, a slice of lemon peel, a dried fig, a tablespoon of raisins, a few slices dried apple.  Cover jar with a clean towel and rubber band to keep out fruit flies.  Leave on the counter (preferably at 70-75 degrees) for 24-48 hours. The longer you leave it, the more sugar ferments out.  I recommend 48 hours. Don’t leave much longer than this as it can can stress the grains.
    For first ferment: sugar, molasses, brown sugar, tibicos

    For first ferment: sugar, molasses, brown sugar, tibicos

    first ferment

    first ferment

  2. After 48 hours, strain the water kefir grains through a  plastic mesh strainer  or cheesecloth (don’t use metal) pouring the liquid into another container. You can start a new batch of kefir right away with the same grains.
  3. To start the second ferment, put the strained, fermented liquid in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid. Add your flavoring (herbal tea, fruit juice, or pieces of fruit). There is no a firm rule about how much to add so experiment. I find a few small pieces of fruit are plenty but if I am adding herbal tea or juice I use a ratio of about 1:4 tea/kefir water. For additional fizz, you can add a few tablespoons of sugar to the second ferment.  Cover jar with a tight lid and allow to set for two days on the kitchen counter. After 2 or 3 days, strain and  decant into jars with a  tight lid and refrigerate. I like to refrigerate for about 24 hours before drinking to get maximum fizz.

    Second ferment with passion fruit pulp and lemon

    Second ferment with passion fruit pulp and lemon.

I grow passion fruit in my backyard. In the fall, I harvest them, scoop out the pulp and freeze for use throughout the year.

Prickly pear fruit

Prickly pear fruit

The first time I tried making the prickly pear fruit kefir, I added something like 5 or 6 fruits. That was WAY too much and produced a drink that was too thick. With water kefir, I think less is more. 1 fruit is perfect and produces a light drink with a gorgeous color.

From left to right: Bottle undergoing first ferment, second ferment w/ passion fruit, second ferment with prickly pear fruit

From left to right: Bottle undergoing first ferment, second ferment w/ passion fruit, second ferment with prickly pear fruit

 

After about a day, the prickly pear kefir gets nice and fizzy.

After about a day, the prickly pear kefir gets nice and fizzy.

 

Finished kefir is a bright magenta with light natural carbonation.

Finished kefir is a bright magenta with light natural carbonation.

Recipes for Kefir using ingredients native to the Americas

Lemon Verbena/Strawberry: Make 1 cup of lemon verbena tea by putting a small fistful of fresh lemon verbena in boiling water and allowing to steep for 30 minutes. Use tea and about three strawberries in the second ferment.

Hibiscus Flower: Put 5-6 dried hibiscus flowers along with a lemon cut in half into the second ferment.

Prickly Pear: Peel one prickly pear fruit and cut in quarters. Add fruit along with a 1/2 lemon (if desired) into the second ferment.

Passion Fruit: Scoop out the insides of two passion fruits and add to the second ferment. Add 1/2 lemon if desired.

Blackberry and Vanilla: Add 5 blackberries and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or scoop the seeds out of a vanilla pod. Will taste like blackberry creme soda!

Note: The origin of Hibiscus is up for debate. We think it was present in the Caribbean before Columbus but it was also in China, Japan, and the Pacific Islands.

Recipe: Amaranth Salad w/ Blackberry Serrano Vinaigrette

I have some beautiful amaranth growing in my garden this summer. It sowed itself from last year’s crop so it is coming up in the area where I am growing winter squash and tomatillos.  I thought the amaranth leaves would make a nice salad!

Amaranth growing in my garden

Amaranth growing in my garden

Amaranth Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • Several large handfuls of amaranth leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces (choose the smaller leaves)
  • 2 avocados, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of blackberries, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup spiced pecans (recipe follows)
  • Jicama, cut in thin strips
  • Fresh herbs, snipped (I used chives and pipicha…use what you have or omit)

Optional Garnish: Edible flowers, including amaranth flowering seed heads, nasturtiums, calendula, or borage.

Toss salad ingredients with vinaigrette. Garnish with edible flowers.

Amaranth, Pecans, Avocado, Blackberries, Herbs, Flowers
Amaranth, Pecans, Avocado, Blackberries, Jicama, Herbs, Flowers

Blackberry-Serrano Vinaigrette

  • 5 blackberries
  • ½-1 serrano chile, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 pink peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon wild local honey

Put peppercorns in molcajete and grind into a power. Add blackberries, minced chiles, and salt, and continue grinding until a paste forms. Add honey and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and blackberry mixture. Slowly drizzle in oil while continuing to whisk. Run dressing through a sieve to remove seeds and any big pieces of chile.

Vinaigrette ingredients: avocado oil, blackberries, salt, serano chile, pink peppercorns, honey, pineapple vinegar
Vinaigrette ingredients: avocado oil, blackberries, salt, serrano chile, pink peppercorns, honey, pineapple vinegar

Spiced pecans

  • ¾ cup raw pecans
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 pink peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon raw local honey

In a molcajete, grind together the allspice, salt, and peppercorns. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and toast pecans for about 3-5 minutes, tossing the nuts in the skillet to make sure pecans toast evenly. Add allspice mixture to the skillet and toss to coat. Drizzle honey over mixture and continue tossing the mixture until the honey melts and covers pecans completely. Pecans should be warm, toasty, and a bit sticky. Remove from heat and separate pecans on a plate and allow to cool.

Dinner!

Dinner!

I know this recipe has a lot of ingredients. Here are some SUBSTITUTIONS: Instead of avocado oil, you can use olive oil. Instead of pineapple vinegar, use apple cider vinegar. Instead of pink peppercorns, use black pepper. Instead of allspice, use cinnamon. Instead of a serrano chile, use a jalapeño. Be inventive!

Christmas Eve

Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas eve, whatever and however you celebrate. Many of us are making tamales with our families (either our birth families or our chosen families or some combination thereof).

This beautiful artwork by Carmen Lomas Garza captures the scene of an extended family gathering to make tamales. The elders and the children, men and women,  participate in the process. The painting also captures the various aspects of making tamales: cleaning the husks, spreading the masa, placing the filling, folding the tamale, and finally, the big tamale pot with the towel on top!

tamalada-cover-web

Carmen Lomas Garza, La Tamalada

Meanwhile, we’re watching our facebook feed with some amusement as our friends debate the “correct” way to spread the masa (spoon or knife?) or the most authentic filling (pork or beef?). We remind folks that the making of tamales goes back thousands of years and that there were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to make a tamal!

Here’s a drawing from  Florentine Codex, Book 2, which shows ‘The Eating of Tamales Stuffed with Amaranth Greens.” Ha! Early evidence of vegan tamales.

 aus_15_01_2

Sahagun describes the Mexica street markets:

He sells meat tamales; turkey meat packets; plain tamales; tamales cooked in an earth oven; those cooked in an olla…grains of maize with chile, tamales with chile…fish tamales, fish with grains of maize, frog tamales, frog with grains of maize, axolotl with grains of maize, axolotl tamales, tamales with grains of maize, mushrooms with grains of maize, tuna cactus with grains of maize, rabbit tamales, rabbit with grains of maize, pocket gopher tamales.

And more:

[He sells] salted wide tamales, tamales bound up on top, [with] grains of maize thrown in; crumbled, pounded tamales; spotted tamales, pointed tamales, white fruit tamales, red fruit tamales, turkey egg tamales, turkey eggs with grains of maize; tamales of tender maize, tamales of green maize, brick-shaped tamales, braised ones; plain tamales, honey tamales, bee tamales, tamales with grains of maize, squash tamales, crumbled tamales, maize flower tamales.

Embrace your own family tradition but don’t be afraid to branch out and experiment with new fillings, new shapes, new methods.

Tamale making is a creative act of resistance that connects us to our past and our future. Connect. Create. Resist. Enjoy.