One of the most important and fascinating parts of the Christmas season are the many traditions passed down through generations of families and cultures. Around my house we are pretty run of the mill. Christmas Eve church service, presents Christmas morning (now that we don't have any little kids the stockings have gone by the wayside although I'd like to borrow a friend's family tradition next year where all the adult family members pull names and take turns each year filling stockings for each other), a nice but casual dinner with our small extended family in the afternoon. It's a very laid back affair which works for us. Occasionally though I'm jealous of those who have something more unique. I have been aware for some time that Christmas is Tamale making season in the Mexican culture. Early in the fall I was talking to my coworker Sandra who has a large family from Oaxaca, Mexico. It crossed my mind to ask, "does your mom make Tamales at Christmas?" She in fact did although not every year. At my urging she talked her mom into teaching me and the rest is photographed here!
As soon as I arrived one of the biggest plastic bowls I have ever seen was brought out and three 5lb bags of corn flour were poured in, for every bag of flour 1 Tablespoon of baking powder added, then the tub of lard (4 lbs) salt & sugar (over time I estimate she added about 2-3 cups of each, more sugar than salt, but seasoning was done by taste vs measuring) and slowly 3 gallons of water worked in creating the masa dough.
Because I'm me I couldn't just sit around and watch, I was here to get my hands dirty! I wanted to contribute! And so I was allowed my turn at the mixing bowl.