Sunday, March 28, 2010
I love street tamales. From the Baja, to San Fransico, Southern California, Salt Lake, even Chicago, I am a veteran of these warm, steamy bundles of happiness. In the Italian Market, I have long passed by the little old tamale lady, and thought about how, "next time, I will try them out." It has all the makings of magic: the little (seemingly) experienced Hispanic woman, a little corner with a cooler and cart full of paper plates etc. However, this was a tamale like nothing I have ever seen.
I ordered one pork, and one chicken. The pork was the first player up to bat. The first thing I noticed about the tamale was...it was huge. It was the size of a giant burrito. I was really quite surprised. The second thing I noticed was...a strange drizzle of hot sauce down the middle. This was okay by me as I love hot sauce. The third thing I noticed was...a large bone in the first fork full. The pork was a strange pink color, and certainly not from being smoked. There was a ton of masa and a small amount of meat. Which wasn't a problem, because it was pretty gross. And when I say pretty gross, I mean I took one bite, out of shear journalistic integrity (as though I have any), in order give a real review of the tamale. It was not good. To put it lightly. And the weird large bone was staring back the whole time. I have never had a tamale this weird/gross. Hopefully the chicken one would be better, right?
How wrong was I? The chicken tamale was almost a joke. A pull of the wet husk wrapper, revealed a wet tamale. Ok, no big deal. Having learned my lesson on the last one, an exploratory poke for bones revealed...
A chicken drumstick. Unseasoned, merely boiled and covered in masa. So gross. It was wet and gray. I don't even know who would eat it. I have never even seen such a thing, even in Mexico. I have yet to find a good tamale in Philly, and the hunt continues. So next time you hear the little old lady calling out "tamale" in the Italian market, avoid this siren like you would some weird piece of meat, because that's all you'd have to look forward to.