Rachel Laudan reflects on how tamales evolved from being considered the crude foods of the lower class into socially acceptable cuisine. Tamales were once “abominable folk pastry” or so said Julio Guerrero, a noted Mexican criminologist. It hasn’t been that long ago that tacos were held in a similar light in USA. On a similar note, we remember when classmates used to look down on us for eating fried baloney sandwiches at our boarding school. People are always trying to find a reason to look down on folks for their foodways.
Stop what you’re doing and drive out Chalmette and pick up a packet of hot tamale sausages from Jeanfreau’s Meat Market. Larry The Butcher really has his recipe dialed in on this dish. We bought a six-pack last week and have been eating steady on them. They’re worth the trip.
Lorraine Englande has a great backstory. Her family were old-school New Orleans restaurateurs who owned Johnny’s (1000 N. Rampart), Marble Hall Branch (802 N. Rampart.) and Bright Star Cafe at 7801 Panola St. Mrs Englande became the cook for a local Catholic priest in the 70s and put herself on the New Orleans food map via her recipe for hot tamales. Hat tip to Judy Walker who still writes for the Times-Pic in spite of being retired. Which reminds us of how much we miss Marcelle Bienvenu, the much loved and recently departed (from that paper) columnist.
Baton Rouge receives plentiful hate from New Orleanians for some reason. We have no idea why. It’s a bustling little college town with plenty to offer for hungry eaters. La Salvadoreña offers tamales wrapped in banana leaves instead of paper or corn husks. That may be anathema to many residents of the Crescent City but next time we’re in Baton Rouge we’re making a point to try them.
People who live in Oxford, Mississippi call themselves Oxonians. Odd. At the Graduate Hotel you can eat tamales made with Grit Girl corn meal on the roof of the building. We love Mississippi. It’s one of our favorite states and we’ve been hearing about Grit Girl’s products for awhile. Time to load up the Econoline and make our way to Oxford.