RL Reeves Jr reports on the national tamale scene

Out on the frozen flatlands of Lubbock, Texas Pedro’s Tamales has been in business since 1977. Owner Mike Hale hangs his hat on beef tamales, an outlier in Texas where pork or chicken are more common fillings. You’re never going to lose money selling beef to Texans.

We routinely steam, then saute tamales, but we’ve never had the temerity to just plunge them deep into a bubbling cauldron of hot fat. Deep fried tamales where have you been all of my life? NPR travels into Mexico to look at the country’s diabetes epidemic…and finds a lot of delicious food.

Is there a less livable city in the US than San Francisco? Roosevelt Tamale Parlor opened in 1922 and has weathered many storms in the city by the bay. The concern has opened and closed and changed hands numerous times in its near century-long run. Now it’s back, and for $10 you can get a tamal. Yes, one tamal. When Mexican joints are forced to sell tamales for $10 apiece to keep the lights turned on you know your city has intractable problems.

When Teresa Mondragon lost the lease on her restaurant in Acapulco she could’ve folded up like a $3 suitcase and went to work for the man. Instead, the hard-worker migrated to the US and started selling tamales on the streets of Los Angeles. But she wanted to be a legitimate member of the workforce so, after moving to Oakland, she combined forces with Emilia Otero to get codes put on the books legalizing mobile food vendors.

It’s always tamale season at the Scrumptious house in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. But for many eaters, December is the only time of the year when they’ll indulge. If you want to eat street tamales illegal in New Orleans good luck. A search of our local Craigslist netted zero tamaleras. Austin’s only 500 miles away but there are nearly a dozen gals on there selling bootleg tamales.

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