Tamales. Little did I know how limited by knowledge of Mexican cuisine had been until I was given quite the lesson by a fellow co-worker. Masa? No idea. Ojas? Beats me. I feel like I’ve made a huge leap in my expansion of culinary knowledge.
Apparently tamales have been around since between 8000 to 5000 BC and used by Aztec and Mayan civilizations to support their large armies. They were also used by Spanish conquistadors and brought back to Spain as evidence of civilization in the New World.
Here is my lesson in New World civilization:
We used blended chiles and chuck roast for the filling and ended up making our own masa. Which is as I learned a dough traditionally made of hominy. We added some lard to lighten up the density and you know when it’s ready when it floats in water. Spread the masa in the corn husks or the ojas with room at the top at bottom to wrap, fill with a spoonful of chile, and close tightly. I swear it was much more labor intensive than it sounds.
Steam and eat and you too can live like an Aztec warrior.