Feliz cumpleaños. Un presente de tamales.

Those of you who have been keeping score at home know that I love tamales. Specifically, tamales from Bernard’s in Midland, Texas.

Those of you who are, like myself, conversationally illiterate in español probably have a pretty good idea what I got for my birthday.

Anyway… my wonderful, sainted step-mother, Terri (no, I’m not trying to butter anyone up!) called the other day to let me know to be expecting a belated birthday gift; a parcel of tamales, as per an earlier conversation. Then she dropped the bomb… she sent ten (10!) dozen!

I had to laugh when she was telling me how she was a bit grossed out by the ingredients listed on the case (yes, I’m now one step closer to mastery of the dark art of tamale making). Along with all of the expected players, they contain pork snouts.

    “Snouts?” I thought to myself,
    “They’d have to be made from brains and anuses before I’d be too grossed out to eat them.” Actually, I’m not entirely sure that would keep me from eating them, but it probably would squelch my desire to cook them.

Anyway… I was a little nervous about them arriving still semi-frozen, or at least somewhat cool, but assuaged my fears by reminding myself that tamales were originally created (at least in part) as a means of preserving meat in the days prior to refrigeration.

The package arrived, right on schedule; a case of 120 tamales packed with blue-ice packets, inside a larger box. Tearing into the box, I found that they were, indeed, still cold. Digging deeper I discovered that those in the center of the case were actually still frozen.

I decided that the first thing I needed to do was to divvy them up into freezer bags and get the reserves into the freezer. Immediately I realized the folly of this course of action and grabbed a pot, put some hot water in it, dropped in the steamer basket and loaded it up with precisely as many tamales as would fit and still allow the lid to go on. Then I busied myself with getting the rest packed up and stored safely away.

By the time I finished with this, my kitchen was filling with that most heavenly aroma and it was tamale time (it’s like Hammer Time only greasier and with less dancing). After inhaling 2 or 3, I had to call to share my elation with Terri. I got the machine, left an effusive, barely coherent message of thanks, then turned my attention back to my tamales. Before they knew what’d hit them I had devoured that steamer load and plopped down, satiated, to contemplate my bounty.

Life is good. Happy birthday to me!