There’s a Central Texas tradition, the Xmas Tamales, and I arrived at this tradition late in life. I’d bypassed tamales for years, not interested in bland little packets of masa-flour wrapped around beans, cheese, and so forth.
However, the local tradition changed that. There’s a place called Rudy’s Food Products, retail and wholesale. There are basically two variations with maybe four flavor versions. Simple, easy and distinct.
There are either hand-made tamales or machine-made tamales. Handmade is basically a buck apiece where as machine-made is half that. Dozen hand-made? Twelve bucks. Six for a dozen machine-made.
Comes in a variety of flavors, too. Beef, Pork, Chicken, Bean & Cheese, and the best? Jalapeño Pork. Very best. Either way.
The handmade tamales are excellent, about the size of a convenience store hot dog. Not to disparage any convenience store food, but I’d guess that Rudy’s is much more sanitary. And while I enjoy a road dog, Rudy’s beats all.
Tamales have a murky historical origin, either South or Central American indigenous people, agrarian-based economy, the corn meal wrapped around some meat, then the packaged wrapped in acorn husk. Steamed, cooked, or in my version? Microwave? Bridges more than one thousand years of local cooking.
The tamale itself is possibly the only truly indigenous food – besides chocolate – thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s made it into the modern era and onto the post-modern era.
Rudy’s is an example of fine, local cuisine. The leftover Xmas tamales, I was chewing on one of the machine-made pork/jalapeño ones New Year’s Day. The trick is the blend of shredded pork, manteca (lard) and masa, then get the right amount of pepper. Rudy’s hit the magic number for spice. Just the right balance: hot enough to have some zing, but not so hot that a yankee would be fanning her mouth complaining about the heat.
I relied on this article for some background material. It was a concise and detailed overview of the tamale material. Never thought of a tamale as war-food. Across the top of the page, when I opened it up, there was a plea from the founder for donations. Big banner space, like an ad. Only, if begging for money, well, that isn’t advertising. Or is it?
Rudy’s Food Products
Wholesale & Retail
3421 So. Flores
San Antonio, Texas