So, I arrived safe and sound in Midland. One of the first things I asked the family about was Bernard’s, a tortilla and tamale factory which sells (in my estimation) the world’s best tamales. No one knew if it was in the same place or even if they were still in business.
Sitting around with my Dad a few days later, he asks if I want to go for a ride. “Sure,” says I, and off we go. I’m just driving aimlessly, we swing by the house where I grew up, which was really quite sad; the neighborhood has taken a definate turn for the worse during the roughly 16 years since I last saw it. My boyhood home looks very weary and run-down and the Elm trees that once lined the streets are all gone, victims of Dutch Elm Disease, apparently.
As we wander through the downtown area, which is still surprisingly familiar, despite an abundance of ‘new’ buildings, I remark that it seems as though Bernard’s wasn’t too far from where we are. Dad agrees and asks if I want to try to find it. “Yes I do!” Now we have a mission! Dad seems unsure that he can actually find it, but then directs me right to it. Amazingly, it looks exactly the way I remember it! Stepping inside nothing has changed, it’s as though I’ve walked through a portal back in time. I can practically see myself, 10 years old, waiting nervously beside my Grandmother while they ring up our tamales.
Then came an even bigger shock, Mrs. Bernard, who was an old lady back way back when, in my youthful eyes, is still there! Of course, she’s older now, but unmistakably the same lady. The whole experience is so overwhelming, I literally am briefly reduced to a nervous 10 year old. “Un docena tamales, por favor”, the words tumble out, automatically, and even as I’m handing her my money I realize that this is not nearly enough tamales.
With my deliciously fragrant bundle in hand, I rejoin Dad in the car. I’m beaming, glowing… I’ve been dreaming of Bernard’s tamales for so long. Our mission now accomplished, we head back to the house. It’s all I can do to keep out of the tamales until we arrive, but unwrapping and eating greasy tamales while driving a stick shift would be a messy proposition.
The tamales are everything I’d hoped for. Spicy enough to make you sweat a little, just the right masa to meat ratio, and just fantastically; sinfully good. Of course now I have to have more, and finding coolers to load full of tamales and bring back becomes a top priority.
So anyway, If you like real Mexican food and you ever find yourself in Midland, Texas, stop at:
Bernard’s Tortilla Factory
511 N Tyler St.
Trust me, you won’t be sorry.