Sunday, January 29, 2012

That's some hot tamale, and I don't mean Paula!

   Tamales are a popular item with your standard Colombian, though they are not like the Tex-Mex ones.  These are filled with corn meal dough, marinated meat, veggies, etc., and, true to the local horticultural ambience, wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks.  They are then tied with string and boiled.
    The local uppity grocery store ladies looked at me as if I'd asked for chitlins in a Harris Teeter when I mentioned banana leaves.  Even the street market folks nearby laughed and said "Siete de agosto, gringo chump!"
     7th of August?  Ah, a cultural experience, mi amigo!  It's a huge covered market NOT in a great part of town, right next to the leather goods area (another blog entry), and not on the tourist map.  Indeed, somewhere WAY off the edge of the tourist map.
     After dodging the folks waving various agricultural wonders at us, yelling "A la orden!" ("you need to buy this, gringo chump!"), we finally located the leaves, scored a great hand-beaten aluminum colander, and fled.
     To her everlasting foreign-life-accommodating-ability credit, Paula quickly caught on to banana leaf work.
    Meanwhile, I marinated a bunch of good Colombian pork, whipped up some cornmeal masa, and the tamale factory was open for business!
    Visions of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz on the chocolate assembly line came to mind, as we glopped, piled and tied up tamales.  To our wonderment, they kind of looked like the real thing!
    Step #9 - Boil for 1 hour and 45 minutes, thus eliminating any pathogens that hitched a ride on the banana leaves, and tenderizing the Colombian pork, which is generally somewhere between bike tire and shoe leather in consistency.
    This is about as far over the Colombian culinary line as we've ventured so far, complete with the local soda.
   Despite our Newbie status, they really turned out well.  By the way, that's curuba juice she's drinking (see later blog entry about what an Osterizer can do for you in Bogotá).
    OK, we thought they were tasty, but the real test was when we showed a picture to the Elders in the Mission Office, and they said, "When are we invited?"  So, down to 7 de agosto for more leaves.
    We cooked up sixteen this time, and had five Elders over for dinner.  They pretty much wiped out the tamales, declaring them "muy ricos!  And next time, why don't you try making coconut rice?  We'll be happy to give you an opinion on that also!"
    So, if you've got extra banana leaves laying around, we'll be happy to forward a good tamale recipe from Bogotá!
Dave & Paula

1 comment:

markh said...

Wholly banana leaf, Batman! Your willingness to try your hands at the local cuisine is inspiring. I just hope the 1 hr. 45 min. really did the trick. Of course, if it didn't, I guess you'd have yet another "anonymous case study" (of what not to do) for your health newsletter, right?