Who makes the dough? Usually it is a more experienced person, an older person. As is well said, the secret of a good tamale is the taste of the dough, so its preparation tends to be a family recipe that is passed from generation to generation. The person responsible for producing this dough is usually the one who has seen it the most, usually the oldest grandmother, grandfather, uncle or aunt. That it is well prepared is important so that you can combine the other ingredients.
Who prepares the meat? Much of what is required for the production of the dough comes from the cooking of the meat, since the fat and the broth are used. “It is a coordinated process, one needs the other, with some specialization in these roles”
Who makes the other ingredients? The person who runs the tamaleada, or other adults in the family, take care of the other ingredients: that the carrot is just right and the rice is not very cooked, for example; besides the potato, the sweet chili, and even the egg. Pipián is a very traditional ingredient, although it is not customary to add it in all places. It is a corn dough to which achiote is added, and even tomatoes, which give it color and a little acid flavor.
There are families that put their particular touch on it by adding pickles, chickpeas, peas, olives and raisins, which give it a sweet flavor, loved by some and not very liked by others. In addition, the Panamanian chili is used in some communities in the Costa Rican Caribbean to give the dough a slightly spicy flavor.
Who cleans the leaves? Cleaning the leaves is a role traditionally assigned to the minors of the family, thus the youngest are included in the family chain of tamale production. Although cleaning the leaves is seen as the simplest activity of the tamaleada, it is essential.
“It allows them to feel useful, participate in the hubbub of the tamaleada and value this activity as part of their tradition. In addition, we are instilling in a new generation the value of tradition so that they continue to practice it and keep it in force every year. It’s a very interesting role, ”Morales said.
Who makes the tamale? When the dough is ready, it is served on leaves in small portions, and all the ingredients that the family considers part of their recipe are added and distributed on a large table. Around are the members of the family who will be adding them in a kind of assembly.
The secret of wrapping the tamale is knowing how to choose and arrange the leaves; that are the right size so that it is well wrapped and does not fall apart when cooked. But also, they must tie themselves very well and for that there is always a manager in the family; Because a poorly tied tamale will cause problems during cooking and could ruin all the planning and previous work of the tamaleada.
Who cooks the tamales? The cooking stage involves putting other knowledge into practice, for example, if salt is added to the water and for how long it should be cooked. There is usually a family secret about how tamales are cooked.
“There is also the tradition of the” silly tamale “, which is to put together the dough and all the remaining ingredients and make a large tamale. It is quite a challenge to tie and cook it. In the end it is raffled among the family, although some have their own custom, such as giving it to a specific member of the clan. The winner will eat a large tamale, but not necessarily with all the ingredients, “said the anthropologist.