The question around town is: "Where can I get some homemade tamales?"
For a great many Texans, tamales are a necessity of the holiday season. But the tamales you buy in the grocery store are usually disappointing. And while we all love the giant dollar a piece tamales at Doña Tere, they aren't the kind of Tex-Mex tamales most of us grew up with. Seems like tamale ladies used to be everywhere this time of the year, selling aluminum foil-wrapped bundles for six or eight bucks apiece. But I haven't seen any tamale vendors on the street this year. Where did they all go anyway?
Well I finally figured it out.
In a word, Craigslist.
Where do go to look for a used barbecue smoker? Or a second hand lawnmower? Craigslist of course. I searched the term "tamales" on the Houston page of Craigslist the other day -- and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a whole bunch of ads placed by homemade tamale makers. The prices ranged from 6 bucks a dozen to 12 bucks a dozen and most of them offered delivery to your front door within 24 hours. I immediately e-mailed a tamale maker and ordered two dozen.
Homemade pork tamales for $7 bucks a dozen were delivered to my door within 5 hours.
The guy who came to the door told me he lived in my neighborhood and said he and his wife were retired and they made tamales for a hobby. The tamales were exceptionally meaty and very spicy. I wouldn't have minded a little more manteca in the masa. The only problem I ran into was that two of the tamales had some undercooked spots were the masa was still raw. An easy flaw to fix if you steam the tamales a little when you heat them up. They were good enough to order again, but I think I'll try some of the other tamale makers on Craigslist first -- there were quite a few.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.