Monday, October 31, 2011

Día de los Muertos

Even though it lasts 2 days (November 1 & 2) in Mexico this national holiday brings families together to celebrate the lives of those who have gone before. Translated to English as “Day of the Dead” the celebration is marked with Marigolds, sugar skulls, gifts of food and drink and visits to grave sites.
Coinciding with All Saints Day and All Souls Day the modern incarnation has its roots in the Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. It has evolved as most holidays have. Once a month long celebration the two days are generally broken up. November 1 known as  Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) to honour children and November 2 as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to honour elders.
Private altars are constructed to encourage visits from the departed souls.101_1193One such altar I found was at The Tamale Store in Phoenix, Arizona.
This take out only shop fresh makes tamales then freezes them for take home heating and consumption. Though you can however get TRE’s (Tamales Ready to Eat) at a variety of local farmers markets. 101_1189
The menu changes seasonally but remains fairly consistent. Offering meat, non meat, vegan and even desert styles. All made by hand from fresh, quality ingredients. Sold in heat ‘n serve pairs.
For the take home consumer, heating instructions are simple and on a take out  menu for your convenience. They are simple and as follows.
Remove tamales from their plastic and wrap in damp paper towels.
Nuculate on high (1,000 watt microwave) for 4 minutes. Remove from paper towel.
Remove the parchment paper wrapper.101_1227
Extracate the corny goodness from the husks, cover with your favourite condiment(s) and enjoy.101_1228
So now that you know how to deal with these little babies I’ll bet you’re wondering how they taste. Well the tamales are the best I’ve had but keep in mind, I’ve not had a lot. The masa had a good corn flavour and they didn’t skimp on the filling. The chipotle chicken and red chile pork (shown above) were packed with flavour. The chicken especially. In the veggie category the grilled poblano and jack cheese were very good for not having meat. LOL. Only slightly less were the green corn and cream cheese. The Law (my cousin) on the other hand has had many in his life and ranks these up there with the best. Several local publications rank them best as well.

You can find The Tamale Store (store) at 13046 N. Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix, Arizona.

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 Tamale Store on Urbanspoon
Well that’s all for now folks. See ya mañana in the food court.

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