Sunday, November 22, 2009

Labor of love

If you are extremely lucky, one day you will be invited over to make tamales at a friend's house.


You'll walk in and find they've put in hours of work already...braising meat in a smoky red sauce until it falls apart on a fork...soaking the corn husks until they are pliable and silky in your hands...roasting and chopping green chiles...assembling huge bowls of masa and cheese, and smaller bowls of raisins, olives and corn. Perhaps they've even been mixing up killer bloody Marys*.

When you go, the stuffing list may vary**. The people around the table with you will vary too. They could be generations of women, childhood friends, neighbors, aunts, grandparents, perfect strangers. Regardless of the connections or lack thereof, invariably you'll talk and laugh about everything and nothing as you try unsuccessfully to emulate your hostess' smoothness with the spatula and her tidy bundling moves.

As the afternoon flies by, the kids will come home from school and beg for samples. You will instead taunt them by savoring every bite of your tester batch.

The pile of finished goods will become impressively large. So large that it ought to last for months and/or feed an army***, because everyone knows this is way too much work to do everyday. But it doesn't feel like work to you. Instead, you will feel so at home and comfortable and just plain happy that it is clear where the phrase "labor of love" comes from.

You may have new found appreciation for the phrase, "bundle of joy", too.

* Don't count on the bloody Marys. I happened to hit the jackpot.
** Tamale composition, you will soon realize, is an intensely, deeply personal matter, and even within a nuclear family the differences are profound and unyielding.
*** But are so tasty that they will probably be consumed way before they ever make it to the freezer. Mine were.

1 comment:

  1. Sharon - We had a fantastic day, and it was such a pleasure to have you join our tamalada. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and let's have another Bloody Mary, which is the only way I'll make tamales in the future! Hug and a smile - Lisa