Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Te Quiero, Mexico

I fell in love in Mexico. Head over heels. It was more than a schoolgirl crush. I fell hard and fast...for a tamale. When the small lady with the big white bucket showed up at our door, I had no idea what I was in store for. And then she said the word. "Tamale?" she asked. "Oh yes!" I couldn't hide the sheer joy in my voice. I rushed in to grab my wallet. "Cuanto?" I asked. "Diez pesos." Diez? As in ten? As in
one dollar? "Ummmm, quatro." I couldn't help myself. I had to try them all.

As I unwrapped my little present, the aroma of chiles and tomato wafted up. The warm corn masa was soft and pillowy. Just inside lay the most delicious carnitas I have ever tasted. I was instantly smitten. Spicy and meaty and was just incredible. I had the next one, filled with cheese and chiles. Then another—chicken. I could have had 3 more.

She came back, my tamale lady. Every day. On the last day, I feared I'd missed her visit to our villa. She hadn't been by, so I thought she must have taken the day off. But as we walked up the beach, I spotted her. Releived, I bought my last two tamales, and thanked her profusely for making one of the best things I've ever eaten. I never found out her name, but that's OK. She'll always be the tamale lady to me.

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