We already warned you regular readers that this blog was going to the Somerton Tamale Festival, so here is ed (from Yuma)'s report:
Contrary to predictions of stormy winds around Somerton on December 13, this year's tamale Festival was graced with more good southwestern Arizona winter weather - though it might not have made it above 70°.
The festival has grown from 22 to 36 vendors in just one year. I'm sure the turn out exceeded last year's showing of 5000 people:
In addition to the worlds greatest collection of homemade tamales, those people also enjoyed the live musical entertainment, such as this spirited mariachi band:
Next we decided to have a green chile, cheese, and sweet corn tamale:
Its name said it all. The chili flavor was intensely green and spicy. That was perfectly balanced by the kernels of sweet corn, which also contributed to the texture. The cheese added richness. This was one of our favorites from the day.
We couldn't resist the thought of a shrimp tamale. Its appearance was unusual in two ways -- it was very round and the husks were held in place by green twist ties:
The spicy salsa dominated the flavor of the combination. This was the most fiery blast to hit our mouths all day long. The tamale itself contained more potato than average and mild flavored beef with a good chew. In a way, the tamale was a very good match for the salsa.
Since we had been pigging out, it now seemed appropriate to tackle a tamale de puerco:
This vendor was voted most authentic the previous year. We loved its spicy and porky flavor. Perfect, except the masa was just a little too dry. Of course, it still beats any Mexican restaurant tamale I've ever eaten.
The next tamale we had was probably our favorite from the day:
We loved the large quantity of chewy and flavorful beef. The plentiful green chile strips (oops, not in picture) added a nice contrast to the red chili sauce with its abundant chili flakes. Needless to say, it was "muy rico":
Is there a tamal worth standing in line for over an hour? Check out part two and find out!