Latin American Tamales

Sep 29, 10 Latin American Tamales

Different types of tamales Hallacas, pasteles, humitas; a tamal by any other name would taste as good. Though tamales as we know them originated in Mexico, virtually every Latin American country has its own version. They are traditionally made from a corn-based dough and stuffed with a variety of fillings like chicken, pork, vegetables, rice and cheese. They can come wrapped in plantain leaves, like the Puerto Rican and Dominican pasteles, or in cornhusks like the Chilean humitas. For extra sabor, the different versions are sometimes spiced with raisins, olives, peanuts, hard-boiled eggs or chilies.

Some are traditionally eaten at breakfast, like the Colombian tamal Tolimense (accompanied by a steaming cup of hot chocolate!), while others are standard for Christmas dinner like the Venezuelan hallaca. There are even dishes derived from tamales, like the Cuban tamal en cazuela and the Puerto Rican guanime. In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras tamales without filling are served as a side dish, as opposed to the main course we all know and drool over just thinking about. And here you thought there was a lone type of tamal, satisfying but sort of same-y. No señora, our cuisine is rich and varied; so next time you get a hankering for a tamal, why not make it an epicurean adventure and sample one of the goodies our heritage has to offer?”

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