Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pork Tamales on Christmas Eve

It's confirmed. It does not have to be a weekend day for me to pop up early; it only has to be a day when there's no requirement and no intent to go the office. Like today. Christmas day. I was awake hours ago, but didn't get up until around 6:00 a.m.

It wasn't the excitement of exchanging presents that had me up early, as we're not exchanging presents (the kitchen sink replacement and the new axle and rear struts on my car, at a combined cost of about $1700, took care of the "gift" part of Christmas). No, it's the simple fact that the day is mine. I am master of my own fraction of a year.

So, I got up, washed last night's dishes, and made a hellaciously strong pot of coffee, which is (as I type this) putting hair on my chest and causing me to actually feel the caffeine coursing through my veins.

Yesterday, we bought sausage kolaches for the office; this morning, I heated one of two leftover kolaches and decided warmed-over baked goods aren't very appealing. But strong coffee does help.

As is the tradition in my house, I made chile con queso (the lazy man's version, with Rotel tomatoes and white cheese), heated the tamales I bought last weekend, and chased that magic mixture with Tecate beer. The actual tradition would have had me create the chile con queso by chopping onions and peppers and opening cans of evaporated milk and tomato sauce and mixing lots of spices together and then slowly melting the cheese into that mixture in a pan on the cooktop. I've grown lazy in my old age, though, so the Rotel version is acceptable, though not nearly as tasty as the original.

In the "old" days, I would have found a little old Mexican woman who makes a few extra bucks for Christmas by hand-making and selling tamales, using a recipe handed down over the generations. Those tamales would have had the ideal mixture of pork and jalapeƱos and would have been flavored so perfectly that I would have sworn they contained magical powers. And I would have steamed the tamales for a good 15 minutes to allow them to reach the temperature and texture that made them the be-all, end-all of food. But last night, I nuked both the chile con queso and tamales in the magic microwave. Times change.

Merry Christmas, compadres!


Nicole said...

You know, I have NEVER eaten tamales! It's something I have on my list if I ever visit.

Phil said...

Feliz Cumpleanos, amigo!

When I did my kayak/mountain bike trip in Baja in 2003, we rode from Loreto up to a mountain village called San Rafael. There, a woman prepared a tamale feast for us in her home. Delicious, and a cool experience.

Or, you could stay in Loreto and eat at Lulu's sidewalk cafe ;-)

YourFireAnt said...

I haven't had a tamale in about 20 years. I think it's time for another one.


Springer Kneeblood said...

Nicole, you and Vincent come visit and I'll feed you tamales! Phil, give me directions and I'll go have Lulu's god, that looks like a fabulous spread. FA! either you have to come down here and I'll feed you more or I'll have to take a road trip to Syracuse with an ice-chest full of tamales and Tecate!

Miles McClagan said...

I've never had Tamales either - our trips to the Mexican restaurant always just end up with everyone drinking too many exotic drinks in fishbowls...