Tamales are not my favorite Mexican food. They’re not even in the top five.
I used to pride myself on how few of them I could eat each Christmas season. Usually the count was somewhere around 2. I’d have one of the spicy red chile and pork tamales and one of the sweet cinnamon, pineapple and raisin ones for breakfast. The sweet ones are always best as breakfast on Christmas morning when my mom places them on a comal or a pan to toast them lightly. A savory/spicy tamal works just as well for breakfast.
This year, I’ve been craving tamales. Prior to Christmas, I’d only eaten on tamal and that bugged me. That changed last night and this morning when we had the traditional tamales and a bunch of other delicious food. Funny thing, Sean asked me if it was okay to have tamales for breakfast. I almost laughed at him. It’s not only okay, it’s condoned and might be the only thing available aside from some beans and eggs. He’s a newbie at Mexican Christmas.
The tamal tally is currently 4. Let’s see how many more I can eat.
It used to really bug me when I heard people refer to the singular tamal as tamale. It sounds wrong to my bilingual ear, but I know the English translation is tamale. In fact, my spell checker has tamal as incorrect and tamale as correct. I mentioned this to a friend once and he mentioned that tamale is closer to the Nahuatl word, “tamalli.” He reasoned that tamal was the bastardized Nahuatl term for the food we’ve come to love.
Anyway, who talks about tamales in the singular anyway? If you eat just one, you’re doing it wrong. Or you’re saving room for all the other delicious food. I can’t blame you too much.