Sights and sounds: the experience of Los Angeles’ biggest tamale festival

Tis the season for tamales!  For many Hispanic families across the globe, making these bundles of goodness are as big a tradition as eating them.  Tamales can be traced back to the time of the Ancient Maya, and were a favored food among moving armies, hunters and travelers.  Tamales are best described as having a starchy dough outside — called the “masa”, that is filled with a meat, cheese or vegetable filling.  The tamale is wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and then steamed or boiled, and then unwrapped before it’s eaten.  Tamales historically come in a variety of wrappings and filling that vary from country to country.

Traditional Mexican and Central American tamales are made with a corn or sweet corn masa, while in the Latin American countries in the Caribbean,  the “pastel” uses a masa made of green plantain or yucca instead of the corn-based dough. Modern recipes feature lighter and healthier ingredients, and even vegan options.  Some families even make breakfast or dessert tamales that contain fruit and chocolate fillings.  Take a look at how thousands of Angelenos celebrated the taste and tradition of tamales in Los Angeles last weekend.

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