Even though the food in San Francisco had been keeping my mind pretty much occupied I still hankered after sampling the organic, vegan tamales I’d picked up a flyer for in Silverlake, LA. If fact, I carried it around in my bag and would re-read it over and over imagining the flavours! Sad but true.
The first morning of my return to Silverlake I fished out the flyer and rang La Guera Tamalera.
Deborah, the ‘White girl tamale maker’ as her business name translates, remembered me instantly, which of course made me feel fab. I begged her yet again to teach me how to make tamales but she said she had no time right now, but in 2011, ‘exciting new plans’ were being cooked up. I thought well, hey, let’s not jump the gun anyway, her tamales might not be anything to write home about. I ordered the vegan choices; sasquash, sesame kale and spinach shitake. They arrived in a huge foil tray, still piping hot from the kitchen, the lovely Deborah greeted me like an old friend (notice I mentioned the food first! naughty me….but the way I see it, you can get to know people through their food..see I’m not just all about the tucker you know!)
It was 10am, breakfast not yet digested, but I’d waited for five weeks to taste these babies so I figured it was ok to try one whilst it was still hot. I grabbed my camera and carefully unwrapped the husk. Inside was a smooth tube of masa, the colour of caramel, the rising steam scented with corn and cinnamon. I took a few hasty mug shots, for which it posed quite happily as you can see, and sat down to try my first ‘white girl tamale maker’ tamale. It was light, spongy, soothingly sweet, the flour and the baked yam and butternut squash spiced just right.
The red bean filling was subtly sweet, salty and delivered a teeny tiny chilli kick. I kept lifting it to my nose to breathe in the steam. Dense enough to be filling, light enough to be savoured and so bloody perfect that it rendered me a very happy (and full) turtle!
That day I ate three. For research purposes and not because I was being a pink porky. The spinach and kale was my favourite savoury, it has seasoned well and married SUBLIMELY with a bowl of hot black bean soup.
Deborah is a GENIUS tamale maker. Her tamales ignite a burning flame of happiness. If everyone in the world ate one of her tamales everyday there would be world peace. Amen.