One of the most popular dishes in Latin America has trickled over into the United States, gaining countless fans. It has become a staple at family gatherings, special occasions and many holidays. While you may call yourself an expert in tamale tasting, we have nine amazing facts that you probably didn’t know about this popular dish!
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- The origins of the tamale date back to the time of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incans. Although widely debated, the first tamales were developed for transporting foods more efficiently during war. Gaining popularity, they became a part of ceremonies, rituals, feasts and fiestas.
- Tamales were served by the Aztecs to Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes, and in 1612, Captain John Smith claimed they were made by Native Americans of Virginia: ‘Their corne they rost in the eare greene, and bruising it in a morter of wood with a Polt; lappe it in rowles in the leaves of their corne, and so boyle it for a daintie.”
- The word “tamale”, or tamal in Spanish, derives from the Aztec word of the Nahuatl language, tamalli, meaning “wrapped food.”
- Europeans brought chicken, pork, olives, raisins and other foods with them to the new world and tamales became more elaborate.
- Tamales, though almost 9,000 years old, weren’t introduced in America until the turn of the 20th Century.
- Who eats the husk of the tamale? Well, there is one incident known as “The Great Tamale Incident”. Former President Gerald Ford was visiting San Antonio, and while at a reception at the Alamo, he grabbed a plate of tamales and began to eat…without removing the husks. The event became known forever as The Great Tamale Incident.
- Tamales have a special day in Mexican tradition. On January 6th, a special cake named “Rosca de Reyes” is eaten by family and friends with a small figure of baby Jesus hidden inside. If you happen to receive a slice containing the figure, take it to a church on February 2nd. That person must then host a dinner providing tamales and atole to guests.
- There was a petition to give the tamale its own national holiday. Although it never came to be, social media celebrates March 23rd as “National Tamale Day”.
- There are thousands of types of tamales today. The most popular are made with masa, but other ingredients can include rice, beans, potatoes and kale. Fillings are also endless and can include chocolate, jalapenos and so much more.
- The Aztecs had two holidays dedicated to showcasing tamales as a main dish. With Atamalcualiztli, they celebrated the birth of the corn god. They made plain, unsalted tamales filled with vegetables that symbolized cleansing and renewal. The other festival was Izcalli, in honor of the fire god. On this day, the tamale serves as a gesture of rebirth.
Order Your Tamales Online!
Armed with interesting facts about your favorite food, you can now officially call yourself a true tamale lover. Spread your tamale knowledge and fascinate your friends, but remember for authentic tamales, visit Delia’s Tamales! Try one of our 19 different flavors that are sure to satisfy your every taste bud. Now delivering straight to your door, place your order online!