Here’s the dish on a dish: tamales. Tamales are abundant in Jackson Heights, not just in the bakeries and restaurants, but also found in mobile serving stations, aka shopping carts. I brought my tamales home wrapped in foil and a plastic bag, along with two napkins and a plastic fork. An article in the LA Times shows a picture of the original food cart, aka horse and carriage! But back to the here and now:
According to GourmetSleuth.com,
“Mexican tamales (tamal is the Mexican “singular” use of the word) are packets of corn dough with a savory or sweet filling and typically wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves. The packets are steamed and eaten traditionally served with Atole (masa drink). Contrary to what is found in most American-Mexican restaurants, most tamales are not served with a sauce, but rather simple and plain.”
Each region of Mexico serves their own variation on a theme. The dough, called masa, is made from dried white corn. The husk can be corn husks, corn leaves, or banana leaves. I read about a Tamalon, which is basically a giant tamale. I need to find one of these! Below are the ones easily found in Jackson Heights.
The flavors you see here are spicy chicken, complete with jalapeño pepper, and green chile and chicken. And when the lady asks you if you want it spicy, she really means spicy.
One more link: Even Time Out New York shows off the Tamale Lady online. Well ok, another link. The Queens Qustodian captured a bit of what the ladies go through to bring us these delicious packages. God Bless the tamale ladies.