Tamalada ~ Con Mucho Amor

We were in El Paso a couple of months ago testing IMUSA tamale steamers and decided it was the perfect opportunity to host a tamalada (a tamal-making party) with our mother, tias, and a couple of cousins. Thankfully our cousin Ericka graciously opened her home and cocina for all of us, and our other cousin Leah documented it all with her amazing photography skills. You can check out her photography blog here.

After a very hectic schedule of testing several tamale steamers, where we made and steamed literally hundreds of tamales we were crazy enough to think we could host a tamalada. We figured why not, we’re already in the groove. We had one day left in our busy schedule to squeeze in one more event so we coordinated a tamalada with those who are the closest we have to grandma, her daughters (our tias), and our mother.

If you’ve ever taken part in a tamalada you understand the energy surrounding it. It must be the fumes in the masa or something about making hundreds of little gifts in an oja (corn husk) because once we all sat around and started wrapping and making the tamales the best stories from the past resurfaced. A tamalda leads to all sorts of chit chat and remembrances of some of our familias history, which normally doesn’t happen at any other time. That day we all talked, we laughed, we cried, and then we talked some more. Wrapping tamales with our mother, cousins, and tias was immeasurable. We are eternally grateful to have spent that beautiful October morning with mom, Ericka, Leah, Tia Natalia, and Tia Ernestina. Gracias y un gran besote for taking the time to spend it with us making tamales. We wouldn’t trade that day for anything in the world.

That day really solidified the importance of documenting our family’s recipes. Our mother is the youngest of all her siblings, and was always with grandma in the kitchen. Thankfully for us she memorized all of our grandma’s recipes including her legendary tamales. We were surprised to hear that our tias had not made tamales in years, so mom teaching all of us grandmas tricks and techniques was priceless. Traditionally our grandma made red chile and pork tamales and sweet raisin tamales for the kids. Through the years our mom has made additional fillings including green chile and pork and a new favorite, rajas con asadero cheese. Grandma’s old tried and true tamale recipes and mom’s new recipes are truly invaluable. I hope one day we too can add to their list of tamale filling recipes.  

As we wrapped each tamal we talked about our late grandma and all the special family gatherings we used to have when we were little kids. It was a walk down memory lane but most of all it was a day filled con mucho amor.

We encourage you to host a tamalada, a cookie party, or something in the kitchen. These moments are truly precious and more often than not, only come but once a year.

Many of you have asked us for our tamale recipe, and we hope you understand how dear it is to us. We are saving our tamale masa recipe and the variety of filling options for our cookbook and hope that you are excited to see them in print as much as we are.

Photography by Leah Audrae

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38 Responses to “Tamalada ~ Con Mucho Amor”

  1. 1
    Linda Long — December 13, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

    i love your site. when’s the book coming out???
    FELIZ NAVIDAD <3

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 13th, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

      Thank you so much Linda! Our cookbook will be available October 2012. We are so excited about it and know it will be here before we know it. Feliz Navidad!

  2. 2
    Neoma Maes....Carla Gray's mom — December 14, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    I am watching to see when the cookbook is released. The Tamale party reminds me of some of my gatherings with familia to do the same. Feliz Navidad !!

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 14th, 2011 @ 9:42 am

      Aw Neoma, you are so darn sweet! Carla is one lucky girl to have such a sweet mama ;) Once our cookbook is out I’ll be sure to sign it for you. Thanks for being so supportive!!!

  3. 3
    Mercedes @BeChicMag — December 14, 2011 @ 11:33 am

    That looks like so much fun! What a great way of getting women together. I’m sure there was great convo.

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:33 am

      Great conversation was had by all…you know what happens when we get together…we laugh, we tell stories, we cry, and then tell more stories…It was a great day.

  4. 4
    perudelights — December 14, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

    This post reminds me of the films where all the women gathered in the big kitchens to make fabulous food for the family. All of you look so happy and joyful.

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:34 am

      Gracias, we did have a wonderful time that day. We ALWAYS do when we get together.

  5. 5
    Comiendo en LA — December 14, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

    Como me hubiera gustado estar ahi! Los tamales me encantan y se ve que la pasaron de maravilla!

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:35 am

      Tuvimos un dia maravilloso y los tamales…deliciosos!!

  6. 6
    Uchi — December 14, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

    Pero que hermosa familia! I loved your post ! you all look wonderful !

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:37 am

      Gracias Uchi. It’s always great to be home with family and this is but a small representation of my very large familia…we have two more tias missing in this photo and all their children. Nonetheless we had a beautiful day that day.

  7. 7
    Laurita — December 14, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    I love this! Qué tierno…you can literally feel the love you ladies have for each other. It makes me want to spend a day in the kitchen with my tias, my abuela and Mami when I visit Puerto Rico. ;)

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:39 am

      Hola Laurita…gracias, we did have a wonderful time that day. We were sooo tired that weekend after having made so many tamales but we had to squeeze in this one small and intimate time with our tias and mami. I will cherish that day for years to come.

  8. 8
    Monica — December 14, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

    That looks like so much fun! It brings back happy memories. Love the photos. Un besito para las abuelitas….

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:40 am

      Hola Monica, I’m glad the pictures show how much fun we had that day. The tamales were extra delicious that day.

  9. 9
    Rachel Candelaria — December 15, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    beautiful pictures.. u girls all look great..and I actually got to eat some of those tamales.. the taste as good as they look.

    • muybuenocookbook replied: — December 25th, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

      Missing you bunches amiga! Have a Feliz Navidad and eat plenty of tamales in El Paso for me. Besos!!

  10. 10
    vianney — December 16, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

    How fun!! Familia together creating wonderful eats, good times!!

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:43 am

      Vianney….good times had by all. I’m sure you’ve created some great memories with your familia. Tamaladas are the best aren’t they? Thanks for stopping by to visit amiga.

  11. 11
    Sujeiry — December 16, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    Loved this post and love the photos! Very well done and so intimate.

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 11:44 am

      We had as much fun making the tamales as we did taking photos show casing our hard work, glad it shows.

  12. 12

    I would dearly love to learn to make tamales. Great photos, everyone is so happy it makes me smile. So good to see you last Saturday Yvette.

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

      Lea Ann, Yvette will have to have a tamalada with you in Colorado, sometime. I’m sure you will all have a fabulous time.

  13. 13
    Deborah — December 17, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

    That looks like my idea of a party! How fun!

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

      Yup, fun was had by all…

  14. 14
    Katiepies — December 18, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

    I must say your tamalada looks as fun as ours-we were just missing you! I don’t see any mimosa’s however-need to add that to the recipe. :)

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — December 26th, 2011 @ 4:32 am

      Karen, loved your tamalada pictures my friend…looks like the Muy Bueno tamalada continues with my friends in California. Thanks for keeping our family yearly tradition alive and sharing it with others. I love your addition of mimosas. Will make that addition next year…besos amiga querida!

  15. 15

    The pictures are exquisite and capture the warmth and love that flowed at the tamalada between the generations of women. I can’t wait until the cookbook comes out because your family’s history will be preserved for future generations and shared with us!

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

      Thank you Viviana…we are furiously working toward to that end…the cookbook is still on target for its release in October 2012…we did have such a beautiful time that day…I love that we captured it with our mom and some of her sisters.

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  19. 16
    dieta — January 9, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    They’re very labor intensive, however not difficult to make. But time is needed to keep your sanity. In most cases you can host a “tamalada” party and invite some friends to help you out in the process, the rewards? Taking tamales home and having a great memory.

    • Muy Bueno Cookbook replied: — January 30th, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

      The best part is assembling them on that day with everyone there. Lots of great conversation takes place and then our reward is eating these nuggets of goodness later that day. Thanks for stopping by to visit our site.

  20. 17
    el pendejo — November 16, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    Twas the night before Christmas, when on the comales
    Not a pot was boiling, except for tamales.
    The pork bien picada, the masa helada,
    All in ready for the day`s Tamalada.

    The pots were washed, all shiny and shimmering,
    Las ojas were soaking, waiting for simmering.
    Abuelo on the sofa, the TV screaming,
    Abuelita on the bed, of lotto dreaming.

    When out in the street, pitos were honking,
    Abuelo yelled, “Wake up, Nietos coming”.
    The family arrived, dressed in delantales,
    Breanna in her wool, Xmas guantes.

    Andale Estella, Eva, mas pronto Juan!
    Muevele Christina, Miguel Y no tardes Don.
    Familia presente, at Inez`s kitchen table,
    Except for Cesar, lacking jumper cables.

    No frijoles ni queso, for filling instead,
    Only the best, of the cerdo`s head.
    No time to tear, a strip for a belt,
    The fold will hold itself or be dealt.

    To the elbows in masa, nails stained with red chili.
    Hands sticky with mole, we near dozen fifty.
    Tamales as gifts the relatives all want,
    For neighbors , el Hefe and my favorite aunt.

    With palita we spread, the masa so thin,
    Thick as a log, is a mortal sin.
    With gossip and chisme we forge on ahead,
    Nearing the clean-up we all dearly dread.

    A la olla they go con mucho cuidado
    Standing tall, como un soldado.
    Tamales a cooking, a la puerta we run
    Now it’s time for Posadas Fun !

    Después La Posada, Tamales we enjoy,
    Makes it worth, the trabajo hoy.
    All eaten before the Candelaria,
    None left, in the olla Tamalera.

    The dozens divided, carried by armload,
    The finished relief, made all smiles glow.
    Exhausted craving, for menudo or fajitas,
    We left Abuelita , with an icy margarita.

    Hurry home not to miss, La Misa de Gallo,
    As we try to keep tomorrow`s day hallow.
    A final shout, saludos finales,
    Feliz Navida ! y Viva tamales !

    • Muy Bueno replied: — November 19th, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

      Wow! I love it. Thank you for sharing!

  21. 18
    Momma Mary — November 20, 2013 @ 8:31 pm

    ‘el pendejo’ That was awesome and made me totally think of my childhood! Thank you!!!

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