The most awaited Christmas delicacy: the Tamal

Delicious taste, millenary tradition, healthy nutrition and family cohesion… so many things define our beloved tamales!

Christmas is coming and with it the exquisite dish of this date: the tamal. Even if we can eat them all year long, the word tamal rhymes with Christmas. Indeed, in several latin american countries, among which we find Costa Rica, the tamal has a central role during the last days of the year.

Call it hallaca, humita, pastel, envuelto or tamal in different parts of the American continent, all of them share the same pre-columbian origin. The “dumb tamal”, without stuffing, was part of the Aztecs’ everyday diet, who also made tamales filled with grinded seeds, chili pepper, wild birds and tomato as an offering to the Sun god during ceremonies.

Due to its nutritional contribution and the storage and transportation easy way of managing it, on top of being a relevant element in festive contexts, the tamal has also consolidated itself as a key element of the Costa Rican cuisine.

The tamales’ ingredients and tasting moments have evolved through time. As a matter of fact, the arrival of Spaniards and the entrance of pork into the Costa Rican diet modified the original recipe of tamales, transforming the pork one into the most typical one.

The tamaleada (act of cooking tamales at home with the whole family) has been acquiring special relevance through the years in the Costa Rican homes during the Christmas season. Indeed, this typically home-loving December tradition involves everyone from the grandparents to the grandchildren, together with the aunts, uncles and cousins. It is a moment of superb cohesion, socialization and family unity that many homes still preserve.

However, due to diverse reasons, among which there are the lack of time, the fact that making many tamales is tiring or the belief that they may make us gain weight, this important tradition is fading day by day.

It is true that there are more and more companies that dedicate themselves to the production of tamales in order to “save yourself” the making of them. It is true as well that depending on the quantity of butter with which tamales are made they will be more or less healthy. However, letting this beautiful part of Costa Rican culture disappear should not be allowed.

Therefore, we invite you to prepare the dough in the most healthy way, to come together as a unified family and to take the time to enjoy making hand in hand this exquisite Christmas dish.
Now you are ready to enjoy many delicious tamales with a good cup of coffee or agua dulce! Merry Christmas!

This post is also available in: Français (French) Español (Spanish)

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