Texcoco native and veteran tamale maker Maria Ortiz demonstrates how to knead the masa dough.

Texcoco native and veteran tamale maker Maria Ortiz demonstrates how to knead the masa dough.

Tamalada Raises Funds for Free Community Dinners

Have you dreamed of making your own tamales but been too intimidated to try the multi-step, labor-intensive process at home?

Slow Food Corvallis helped about 35 participants conquer those fears by organizing a authentic tamalada (tamales-making event) on a Saturday afternoon in late April. The class, conducted by Texcoco native and Corvallis resident Maria Ortiz, promoted cross-cultural culinary exchange with the local Mexican community. Tickets sales from the event also raised $250 for new community dinners launching for low-income families later this summer. Volunteers organized by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition’s food committee will prepare and serve a monthly meal to at-risk families at SouthSide Community Church. These Southtown Family Dinners will particularly cater to the neighborhood’s growing Hispanic population. While insurance issues are still being ironed out with the church, a trial-run fundraiser meal will be served on June 28, with the monthly dinners set to commence in July.

But back to making tamales. Maria modeled the entire process for us, demonstrating how to knead the masa dough, prepare salsa from scratch, rehydrate the corn husks, spread the masa and fillings on the surface of the husk and then fold the husks up for steaming. We made three types of tamales: chicken and pork ones with salsa verde and salsa roja and vegetarian Rajas ones with tomato, strips of poblano peppers, cheese and the herb, epazote. To drink, we served traditional Mexican beverages: Jamaica hibiscus tea and limonada. About a half hour before the event concluded, we gathered to taste the results. Delish! All participants also went home with a bag of tamales to freeze.

Holding this event in the large certified kitchen we rented from the local First United Methodist Church was key. Folks need lots of space to spread out at tables and wrap those tamales.

Click here for more on the tamalada and for Maria Ortiz’s recipe.