Hot Tamale

The nightly broadcast of the loudspeaker breaking my concentration I leapt to my feet and ran down stairs, stumbling while trying to tie my shoe.

I’m going to catch him this time.

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Catch me if you can!

The broadcast becoming ever so faint, the tamale kid escapes me regularly but this time he’s within running distance. Stopped at the traffic light I approach him from behind.

     vendes tamales?

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Tamale Kid

si, tamales y atole de chocolate,

replies a kid not much older than fourteen. Peddling his bike across the city with a basket full of tamales and container of chocolate atole, a thick sweet chocolate drink, he passes by the neighborhood in the evenings, loud speakers announcing his arrival. I finally caught him. I’ve been here just over a week and I’ve never made it down four flights of stairs in time to catch him. He peddles away as the blaring broadcast goes silent.

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Tamale Kid CDMX

I’ve been trying to buy his tamales to compare them with those of San Francisco’s beloved Tamale Lady. The night before boarding my flight to Mexico City I caught up with the Tamale Lady on the patio at the Lucky 13, a local watering hole in the city about to be razed to make way for condominiums. The Tamale Lady makes late night visits to many of the bars around the city, hawking her homemade tamales.

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Tamale Lady

Densely packed full of chicken, pork, cheese or potato at five bucks a pop you get your money’s worth. Especially considering you are being delivered a hot tamale while sloshing back beers with your buddies in a bar. My tamale arrived wrapped in a corn husk, steam escaping as she gently pulls it open.

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Hot Tamale in San Francisco.

salsa she asks.

     is it spicy?

of course, she replies.

     no, thanks.

I’ve never been a fan of spicy. I was accused, the other day, of not being Mexican. An old lady at the Zocalo preparing my tacos asked if I wanted red or green salsa. When I told her I don’t do spicy she loudly boasted tu no eres Mexicano.

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Tamale Lady’s tamale.

The Tamale Lady’s tamales are big and round full of ingredients with just the right amount of masa. They settle your cravings after a long night in the bowels of the lucky 13.

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Pork Tamale in Mexico City.

In contrast on the streets of Mexico City the Tamale Kids tamales wrapped in banana leaf are flat and square, made mostly of masa.

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Mexico City Tamale

At 15 pesos each, the equivalent of $.75US meat in these tamales is scarce. One chunk the size of a quarter is all of this ingredient you are going to get.

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Tamale Kids Tamale.

Both weighing the same they differ in color, shape and taste. The rough yellow corn husk is in direct contrast to the green soft banana leaf. One is round and full of marinated pork the other flat and mostly masa. Satisfying and tasty they are both.

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