A delicious read, this little book comes out of San Antonio, renowned center of Texas Mexican cuisine. The title is apt and humorously intriguing:
“Tamales, Comadres, And The Meaning of Civilization.”
A brilliant publishing move by award-winning Bryce Milligan’s WingsPress (www.wingspress.com), this unique and well-researched gift-book gives you all you need to know about tamales and their crucial, celebratory role in culture. Comadres are our aunts, sisters, mothers, those extended family ladies who gather to grind, blend, boil and wrap those Christmas tamales while passing on the oral traditions, philosophies of life and, oh, savory gossip.
Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark and her comadre, Dr. Carmen Tafolla are the two authors, real comadres. They’ve managed to tell the history of corn dating back to 7,000 BC, tracing tamales all the way from mesoamerica to San Antonio, and they embed the entire telling in San Antonio families and folklore. It is pure San Antonio personality. “Our history and our stories are wrapped in those shucks, and our memories are wrapped in love.”
I plan to share the gift with my family members this Christmas. It’s the type of book that feels like a family photo album, a collection of wonderful poetry, a brief history of our food, and a generous dash of original San Antonio slogans like, “Make Tamales, not War!”
Recipes, of course, the book includes recipes for pork tamales, rajas tamales, “Tamales that won’t upset the Rabbi,” and healthy tamales.
The main reason I love this little book is that it understands food as a philosophy of life, and describes tamales in that way, emphasis on our bondedness. “Tamales are always made with two basic ingredients,” says the book, “collaboration and optimism.”
This book will make you happy.
Photos courtesy of WingsPress, San Antonio. www.wingspress.com