Stay Safe – Eat Tamales!

HICA Tamale Captain virtual meeting 2020

HICA’s 17th Annual Tamale Sale!

You’ve probably seen the meme that says “Stay Safe, Eat Tamales…because the more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap!”  It cracks me up every time I see it and its usually right around this time of year too.

HICA Tamales go on sale Thanksgiving Day!

I’ve written a lot about tamales over the past five years that I’ve had my blog.  That’s mainly because I’ve been involved in a wonderful tamale fundraiser for HICA – the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – ever since it got started in 2003.  I’ve made tamales, helped market them on TV, sold them to friends, worked tamale pick up day at HICA and best of all, I’ve enjoyed eating them!  This tamale fundraiser has been a holiday tradition in Birmingham for 16 years and I’m thrilled that it will continue for a 17th, with precautions of course, during the current pandemic situation we find ourselves under. 

Tonight, I attended a virtual Tamale Sale Captain meeting conducted by my friend, Silvia Espinosa Laxson, who is HICA’s Development Manager.  She took us through the details of the sale, pricing, marketing and delivery and/or pick up.  Tamale Captains got their start five years ago as a way to help streamline the sales process.  It’s like a circle of interest where each tamale captain sells to their friends and if they work at a large company, they can sell to their company.  You become the point of contact for these folks and make sure your friends get their tamales in time to enjoy them for Christmas eve dinner! 

Long time supporter Suzanne Martin with her tamales!

Under the old process, everyone would have to pick up on just one day at the HICA offices.  This required quite a number of volunteers to bag the tamales when people arrived for pick up, verify the orders, and then begin calling people later in the afternoon to make sure they remembered to stop by to pick up.  I’ve worked many tamale pick up days and always enjoyed it, especially when people would share their tamale stories with me.  I also loved photographing people with their tamales by the HICA Christmas tree.  They were always smiling broadly and happy to pose and raise their tamale bags in the photos.  It’s amazing how excited people get about these little corn husks filled with deliciousness!  (FYI…don’t eat the corn husks!)

This year, we have 36 Tamale Captains which is the most in five years.  Silvia went on to explain that because of the work of the captains, we exceeded the goal of selling 10,000 tamales last year. In fact, HICA was able to sell 11,000 tamales in 2019 with half of the sales coming from the Captains! 

During the Tamale Captain meeting two years ago, one of the captains suggested a vegan tamale might be fun to add.  We had never done anything like that before for the sale but the suggestion grew legs!  The usual choices are chicken tamales with green sauce, pork tamales with red sauce, and pepper & cheese tamales and they are all made with lard, so definitely not vegan!  But that didn’t stop Silvia or the tamale crew at HICA.  They worked with the tamale makers and were able to create a vegan tamale made with vegetable oil.  These are slightly more expensive than the others since they are a bit more labor intensive to make.  I didn’t get to try these last year but I’m curious so I may give them a try this year.

HICA Tamales!!!

I’m always amazed at the number of people who start asking me about tamales in November.  I keep a running list so that I don’t forget.  If you want on my list and you live in the Birmingham area, let me know!  The sale runs from November 21 to December 7 and tamales can be delivered December 9 or 10.  Visit the HICA website for more details here. 

It’s also important to remember that this is a fundraiser for HICA.  This year has been especially hard for non-profits with the added stress of working in the Covid environment and also providing assistance to even more families with housing, food and other needs.  HICA even functioned as a Covid testing site this year.  So sure, you can buy cheaper tamales, but buying HICA tamales not only makes you feel good when you eat them, they also make you feel wonderful because you are helping your community. So, get out there and buy some tamales and don’t forget to select me as your captain…. if you live in Bham, AL!!!

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