Skip to main content

The LA International Tamale Festival


The LA Int'l Tamale Festival on Sat, Nov 1.


The Jalapeno-cheese tamale with salsa from Mama's Int'l Tamale


The elote (sweet corn tamale)


The sweet corn (top) and the chilean humo (bottom), undressed.

The best thing about going to this festival twice (Sat Nov 1 & Sun Nov 2) in sketchy MacArthur Park area is finding out that there is an official name to my favorite sweet corn tamale. It's called "Elote".

The reason why I love Elote so much is because this is the only kind of tamale available in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where I grew up. Of course, the ones I had in Bolivia were much better, containing not only ground sweet corn, but ground hominy as well as bits of Menonite cheese to give the masa some stretch. It's the best balance of sweet and salty. In Bolivia, they just called this "tamale". They also had tamale del horno, which was a drier version wrapped in banana leaf.

The other tamales were okay. I was never a fan of tamales with meat. I think I prefer the cheesy ones. Hence, I really liked the jalapeno and cheese tamales and the elotes. I brought home 9 elotes and 4 jalapeno and cheese. 13 tamales for $25 (they threw one in for free).

Yeah, it felt like a rip off but I figure it's hard to get to MacArthur Park again just to buy tamales. I justified my splurge by saying that I was helping out the festival's longevity. Also, I tried making sweet corn tamales at home and I ended up spending over a hundred dollars trying to get the proportions right, and I still have over a dozen uneaten tamales in my freezer. When my family hears the word tamale, they freak out, asking me "Are you going to try to make them again?!" That's enough for me to just go out and buy some. I love cooking but I'm not good at making everything.

Damn tamales = my Achilles heel.
1 comment

Popular posts from this blog

Donut Friend & Town Pizza - York Blvd, Highland Park, CA

First, Donut Friend - a DIY donut house. They also have some on their list that are already made. I like ordering off their menu because well, they spent a lot of R&D money to make sure some of these ingredients work together. When left up to my demise, the donuts I create end up tasting off. 
My favorite off their menu is the Jets to Basil and Nutella Vision. This one below is neither of these. I don't even quite remember which one this was but it contained reese's pieces and it wasn't as good as the two aforementioned donuts.

You end up ordering at the cash register but the setup looks almost like you order it when you walk up to it and follow the donut maker to the cash register. That is not how it works here. You just order at the cash register and someone makes it for you (and you're allowed to watch this person make it for you). Yes, it is a confusing set up and I get annoyed as well. 
Another place we go to frequently just because it is convenient and becau…

Cuñape

"Cuñape" is the best cheeseballs in the world, and it’s from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. These gooey and addictive cheese balls are similar to the Brazilian "pão de queijo" or the French "gougères" or the Colombian "pandebono" but all of these are different from each other as well. Gougères are lighter and more airy while the Brazilian ones are chewier but drier on the outside. I would say the pandebonos are closest in taste and texture to the Bolivian cuñape but it is slight more bready.

In Bolivia, we use mennonite cheese (farmer's cheese) for this recipe and honestly without that cheese it will never be exactly like the original but you do what you can. I've been hunting down a similar cheese in the U.S. for ages but the closest I can get to it is to use the queso blanco or fresco and add some more salt (or even mix some feta into it).

The history of the cuñape is very interesting. It is a Guaraní word that means "a woman's breast&…

Making Mocochinchi

I get really excited when I can think of a food or drink that is solely Bolivian. I admit there isn't too many Bolivian dishes that are not influenced by the many countries that it borders. Even the Saltena, Bolivia's most famous empanada looking pastry comes from a woman who came from Salta, Argentina, to Tarija, Bolivia. 
So when I'm researching Mocochinchi, my favorite childhood and now adulthood drink, made from dehydrated whole peaches, sugar, and cinnamon, and I find that it's a "Bolivian"drink, I get really really excited. Bolivia Bella goes on to describe regional favorites. 
In Santa Cruz, you can buy the dehydrated peaches in the open markets. I snag a pound of dehydrated peaches because you really can't find these in the U.S. except maybe in Miami or Virginia, where there is a huge population of Bolivians. Using sliced dehydrated peaches don't really work for this particular drink because the fun is eating the reconstituted peaches afterwa…