Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hot Tamales

I want to talk about tamales. Back when I was living in Boston, I'd eat a tamale once in a blue moon at a mediocre Mexican restaurant. Usually it was filled with a not-so-tempting mystery meat, replete with bits of skin and sometimes, if you were lucky, bones too.

But I really like food in little packages (see my Shanghai Noodle Shop post) and I always thought that tamales could be really, really good. I tried my hand at making them, once, and it was laborious and worth the effort, but it's not something I'm apt to do too often. But here in this great city of San Francisco, particularly in the neighborhood I'm living in, tamales are everywhere. There's a woman who sells them outside the Safeway on Bryant Street, a kind man who shows up outside the Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street on Saturday and Sunday evenings, cooler packed with the most wonderful pork and green chili tamales, and taco shops and bodegas everywhere that have them all the time. For $1.50. No joke.

I have come to the conclusion that they are the greatest snack food ever, and I'm wondering now why other cities haven't caught on. Hello, Boston, I mean you! Where is your tamale cart? Since I'm still unemployed, I have started having visions of becoming the East Coast tamale woman, with a squeeze bottle of hot sauce, a roll of paper towels, a cooler filled with hot tamales and a dream.

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