Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hot tamale!

My last day in Playa del Carmen I was sorry to leave. The people, sea, sand and food of the Yucatan are great. Plus I was sorry to leave my handsome, charming, somewhat dangerous and moody-with-an-air-of -James-Bond date. He lives in my hometown and not in Durham. I met him in Paris at dinner.

The lunch we had before leaving for the airport in Cancun was perhaps the culinary pinnacle of my trip! James Bond and I (who am too tall to be a Bond girl though I could kickbox or sword fight my way out of trouble if I had to) share among other thing a love for...wait for it...TAMALES! Not knowing this about me, James Bond sheepishly admitted one day that he loved the tamales at this little tienda nestled between tacky shops on the main street in Playa.

I begged to go there. He must've thought I was feigning interest because he kept apologizing that it was just a little shop selling just a few homemade tamales out of a giant pot sitting at its entrance. I continued to insist on having tamales.

On our last day we picked up some chicken tamales and some salsa from the Mini-Super Aguilar on Avenida Cinco in Playa. They smelled of cooked corn and greens. They were wrapped in banana leaf instead of corn husk, hence the aroma of greens. Apparently this is the Oaxacan way but I have not checked my sources on that. The tamales seemed to have a touch of chipotle in them because they had a spicy, smoky flavor. The chicken was white breast meat. The cornmeal encasing was moist. The homemade salsa was simply cooked, pureed tomatoes and onion with some jalapeno.

I wonder how many of those tamales I could eat. Probably so many that I would fall over with a stomach ache!

Now I am inspired. Someday soon I will make tamales in my own kitchen. I learned how a few years ago from my friend's Mexican housekeeper. It requires a very big pot that I will have to hunt down at a Mexican tienda in Durham. It also requires an entire day and several helpers.

I really have Mexican cuisine on the brain now! Unfortunately I am travelling a lot or I would camp out in my kitchen for the next three weekends. Besides attempting tamales on my own for the first time, I'd like to try gazpacho, ceviche, and pozole soon. Stay tuned!


Leggy said...

I too love Tamales with a passion. I knew just the place in Chicago for them but having just moved to Durham I don't know where to get really good ones. Do you have a suggestion?

Kelly said...

Not too long ago, Salsa Fresh in Morrisville used to get a weekly delivery of homemade tamales for a local Mexican woman. I don't know if they still do but those were the best ones I've found so far.

Leggy said...

Oooo... Thanks!

Very Very good Girl said...

Just found your blog from an article in the Indy and really have enjoyed reading all the old posts! First, I'm jealous you know how to make tamales. I'm thinking of heading to to William & Sonoma this Tuesday from 6:30-8:30pm where Chef Michael Bojara Of Neomonde is teaching a class. Also, if you're ever in Albuquerque, NM head to El Modelo. My grandparents are nice enough to freeze & ship them to me as a gift. Yum.