The Tamale – A New Mexico Tradition of Hospitality
History of Tamales
This blog has been prepared for guests of Pueblo Bonito bed and breakfast inn- Santa Fe. In response to the popularity of our New Mexico red chile pork tamales served hot daily for breakfast. We hope you enjoy the History of the Tamale!!
“Tamale” is derived from the word tamalii an Aztec word meaning “wrapped food”. Though we are not certain when or who invented the tamale, we do know tamales were written about since pre-Columbian days. Aztecs served Spaniard soldiers tamales during visits to Mexico in the 1550’s. Tamales were eaten by soldiers on long sojourns into Mexico as tamales are portable and easy to heat.
Tamales have been eaten in the United States since at least 1893 when they were featured at the World’s Columbian Exposition. A tradition of roving tamale sellers was documented in early 20th-century in blue/ragtime music song “They’re Red Hot” by Robert Johnson.
While Mexican-style and other Latin American-style tamales are featured at ethnic restaurants throughout the United States, Pueblo Bonito b&b inn- Santa Fe proudly features our traditional New Mexico red chile pork tamale! A distinctly indigenous tribute to New Mexico culture, tradition and cuisine.
Tamales typically are not made every day, as they once were, as they are very labor intensive. Rather you find tamales being made for special occasions like the Day of the Dead, Christmas, Native American Feast Days, New Year’s or just about any other family or holiday celebration. Tamale making is usually a family affair! Traditionally family members gather together and make fillings and masa the day before. Day 2 creates an assembly line- family of all ages form to spread the masa on corn husks, fill and fold the tamales. Once the tamales are assembled, they are steamed and finally eaten. Usually hundreds of tamales are made at once so everyone can take some home and share with friends and family. Guests of Pueblo Bonito, though not required to create the tamale, are warmly invited to our tables to share as friends in this delectable tradition of hospitality- enjoy!