Category Archives: Tamales

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!!!

HICA and the Fun of Tamale Pick Up Day

Doors of HICA last December – welcoming tamale sale supporters!

I think I’ve lost count as to the number of HICA tamale sales I’ve been a part of all these years!  It’s the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama’s signature fundraiser and a labor of love each year to put together and pull off.  It’s gone from a group of people making tamales in a church kitchen, to volunteers making them at the Culinard kitchen to outsourcing to restaurants one year when the demand got so great.  Over the years I like to think we’ve finally perfected the sale, the way we market the sale and most of all, the tamale pick up day!  On a personal note, I rolled off the HICA board in December last year, but this organization is close to my heart and I’ll always use the word “we” when talking about it.

I’ve written a lot about the sale over the years but I don’t know that I’ve really talked about tamale pick up day.  It always takes place on a Friday in December and it’s the day set aside for people who have bought tamales to stop by the HICA office and pick them up.  We always ask HICA board members to be on hand to help with the pick up day in shifts.  Of course, the HICA staff is always on hand to make sure there is a good flow to everything and the orders are fulfilled.

Holly Hilton makes calls to people who purchased tamales to remind them to pick up!

Calls are placed to people who placed large orders to remind them to come by and pick up.  Over the past few years, Tamale Captains were created to help with this.  When you order, you can select a tamale captain that you know and request for them to be delivered to you through this person.

For me, tamale pick up day is my favorite part of this fundraiser.  I don’t sign up for a shift because I like being there all day!  I love seeing all the people who come by and support HICA by buying tamales and listen to their stories.  That’s one of the best parts.  These stories are often unsolicited too.  As they are waiting for their tamales to be bagged, they offer stories on what they will be doing with the tamales, when they will enjoy them and how often they’ve been buying them from HICA!  It’s become such a tradition for so many people in the Birmingham area.

In the past, I’ve brought Christmas music to play and also a box of goofy  Christmas headbands – antlers, santa hats, elf ears, etc. – for the board and staff to wear and greet everyone.  This past year, I had a blinking Christmas light necklace that I wore.   I bought it at Walgreens and several of the staff members loved it and wanted one.   So after I went to make a tamale drop off downtown, I hit up several Walgreens stores looking for a few more to share with the staff with no luck!  I’m hoping I can find a few in the next few weeks to take with me this year!!!  It just adds to the fun of the day!

Because of my love for “pick up” day,  I have recorded it with photos over the years.  Here are a few of my favorites and some of my friends who continue to support HICA by buying tamales every year.

If you are in the Birmingham area and want to experience the HICA tamale sale this year, like HICA’s Facebook page to keep up with the updates.  The sale begins on Thanksgiving day (Nov 23rd) and ends Dec 10.  Pick up day is on Friday, Dec 14th at the HICA offices.  I’ll be there so let me know you read this blog post and let’s take a photo together!

Making Tamales on TV!

HICA Tamales!!!

HICA Tamales!!!

Well, today was fun!  I got to make tamales on television and help promote the HICA Annual Christmas Tamale Sale! 

I’ve done TV appearances before to promote the sale but this is the first time I’ve “made” them on TV.  Let me explain why I used quotes around “made.”  Usually, we bring a few tamales to the TV station, along with some Mexican décor.  We set everything up on a table and talk to the host/anchor about HICA’s programs, explain a little about tamales and end with how to buy them.  Today we took a different approach.

Monica Black, HICA’s Communications and Development Associate, arrived at the station equipped with everything we would need to make a tamale on camera.  She along with HICA staff member, Cindy Garcia, brought tamale fillings, masa (tamale dough) already made, corn husks (some already softened), ingredients to make both the red and green sauce for the filling and beautiful talavera plates for display.  Oh!  and they also brought a dozen of each flavor of tamale we are selling along with the tamale pots!  They are so awesome!

Me and Carlos Aleman - getting ready for our 3 segments on ABC 33/40 Talk of Alabama!

Me and Carlos Aleman – getting ready for our 3 segments on ABC 33/40 Talk of Alabama! Photo credit: Cindy Garcia

We made full use of the new studio kitchen at ABC 33/40 today.  Naturally, we couldn’t show the entire process in real-time – we would have been there all day, which we explained.  We were able to show the steps involved and demonstrate how to make an actual tamale from spreading the masa on a corn husk and adding our choice of filling – in this case either pork with red sauce or chicken with green sauce.  Next I showed how to fold the tamale and explained how to place the finished product into a tamale pot – a tamalera – and how to cook them.

Through all this, my fellow board member, Carlos Aleman and I talked up HICA and how this tamale fundraiser helps support the wonderful programs of the organization.  We have been doing this tamale sale since 2003 and sold over 70,000 tamales!  That’s a BUNCH of tamales!!!  This year our goal is to sell 10,000 and hopefully we will meet that goal.  We shall see!!!

Anyway, it was a different TV experience since the first segment was about 4-1/2 minutes long followed by another 2-3 minute segment halfway through the one hour show.  The last segment was at the very end of the show when our wonderful co-hosts sampled their choice of tamales and we did a quick wrap up on how to buy tamales on our website.

Thanks to the folks at Talk of Alabama on ABC 33/40 for such a wonderful experience today.  Y’all were so wonderful to work with, in particular our co-host for the segment, Javante Ingram!  Java has her own special tamale story which she shared with us on air.  And that’s why we love this tamale sale so much…it brings out the stories in people and how important tamales have become in their celebrations and special memories.  Food does that!

A photo from the ABC 33/40 Talk of Alabama website showing the first of 3 videos from the show today.

A photo from the ABC 33/40 Talk of Alabama website showing the first of 3 videos from the show today.

Don’t forget to buy some tamales if you are in the Birmingham area!!!

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HICA’s Annual Tamale Sale is BACK!

HICA Tamales go on sale Thanksgiving Day!

HICA Tamales go on sale Thanksgiving Day!

I know it’s Thanksgiving Day and you are all probably up to your eyeballs in turkey and dressing…BUT…give some thought to Mexican food too because today is the beginning of the 13th Annual HICA Tamale Sale!!!!!

If you live in the Birmingham area and love tamales, you don’t want to miss out on this fundraiser benefiting the programs of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama  – HICA.  The sale runs through December 11th and orders are taken online with pick up date on December 16th at the HICA offices.  If you work with a Tamale Captain, you may be able to get them delivered to you.  All this information is on the HICA website so be sure to check it out today and place your order.  Flavors include chicken with green sauce, pork with red sauce and MY favorite, cheese and pepper tamales.

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Tamales have become a tradition for many non-Hispanic people in Birmingham over the years of our sale.  It’s definitely a tradition with Mexican families, mine included!  Friends and family get together to have a tamalada (where you make the tamales) and then after they are all made – dozens and dozens – you eat them together!  Tamales are fairly labor intensive to make so they aren’t necessarily made on a regular basis.  Christmas is one of those special times when they are made and we’ve shared this information with the people who return every year to buy tamales from HICA.  They come back and share their stories of eating Christmas tamales with their own families along with salsa and other fixings!  It’s so fun to hear the stories every year during pick up day.  We may try to record a few this year!

Me and Isabel Rubio after filming our tamale sale video this year in he kitchen.

Me and Isabel Rubio after filming our tamale sale video this year in he kitchen.

This year, HICA’s Executive Director, Isabel Rubio and I made an English video that will run beginning Thanksgiving day.  HICA Staff members, Monica Black and Cindy Garcia were on hand to make a Spanish video to run as well.  We gathered in Isabel’s kitchen to made the videos a few weeks ago with Latino News.  And the best part?  We got to eat the tamales afterward!  YUM!!!

Cindy Garcia, Isabel Rubio, me and Monica Black after the tamale videos wrapped up - thanks to Latino News for filming!

Cindy Garcia, Isabel Rubio, me and Monica Black after the tamale videos wrapped up – thanks to Latino News for filming!

Being a part of the HICA Tamale Sale is one of my favorite things to do each year as a board member!  If you’ve never tried our tamales before, I encourage you to give them a try this year.  They are simply the best and hopefully this will be the beginning of a new holiday tradition for you and your family!

Tamales and Cole Slaw? Yep!

HICA tamales with a side of Salsa Senorita spicy cole slaw!

HICA tamales with a side of Salsa Senorita spicy cole slaw!

So you say you want to enjoy a complete meal of tamales and something else…but what? What do you add to tamales to make it even more delicious? Why not cole slaw!

Lori works on the slaw ingredients while Jessica Chriesman does some filming.

Lori works on the slaw ingredients while Jessica Chriesman does some filming.

I filmed a video with Lori Sours – better known as Salsa Senorita – a few weeks back to promote the HICA tamale sale. She has some great recipes made with her wonderful salsa and I was surprised to find she added her salsa to cole slaw. She gave me a little demo in this video (posted below) and I tell you…it was delicious!!! My husband and I are not a big fans of mayo but you really can’t tell there is even mayo in it with all the other added ingredients. I have never heard of adding honey either.  I mean really? HONEY? But it’s the unexpected that really makes the difference in recipes, isn’t it?

I loved filming with Lori…she is such a natural on the camera and we had a great time talking about New Mexico and her salsa and how she got started in the salsa business. We filmed 4 segments in one day under the eye of Jessica Chriesman – a recent UAB Film graduate. She did a fabulous job showcasing Lori’s salsa recipes and also highlighting the HICA tamale sale.

Lori Sour's spicy cole slaw before it all got mixed together...

Lori Sour’s spicy cole slaw before it all got mixed together…

HICA – the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – sells tamales each year as their signature fundraising event. The organization has sold over 70,000 tamales since 2003 and in the process have introduced a wonderful part of Mexican culture to the Birmingham community. We hope to sell 18,000 this year and we have two more days to do that! I hope that if you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area that you will consider buying a dozen, or two (or three!) and support the great work that HICA does in our Hispanic community!

Me and Lori after the filming was finished.

Me and Lori after the filming was finished.

Meanwhile…check out the video and jot down the spicy cole slaw recipe from Salsa Senorita!

 

 

 

Salsa Senorita’s Easy Cheese Dip!

The HICA tamale sale is just two days away!  Thanksgiving day!!!  The tamale sale is HICA’s signature event and you don’t want to miss out.  Go to http://www.hispanicinterest.org to order your tamales.  You have until December 11th and pick up day is at the HICA offices on December 18th.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we partnered with Lori Sours of Salsa Senorita to produce 4 videos using her salsa and recipes and our tamales!  Lori will have her salsa on sale during pick up day too if you want to pick up a jar or two (or three!) that day.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit HICA.

Here is the latest video in partnership with Salsa Senorita and produced by Jessica Chriesman.  This one features an easy cheese dip you can pour over the tamales and enjoy.  Featured in the video is Maricela Garcia, a HICA board member.  Mari was recently honored by the Alabama Media Group as one of 34 women who shape the state!

Meanwhile…enjoy the video and hope to see you on tamale pick up day if you are in the Birmingham area!

The HICA Tamale Sale is BACK!

Ready to wear my HICA Tamale Sale t-shirt for tamale pick up day on December 18th!  Buy some tamales and come by and see me!

Ready to wear my HICA Tamale Sale t-shirt for tamale pick up day on December 18th! Buy some tamales and come by and see me!

In a previous post, I shared a story and photos about a new way HICA is marketing our tamale sale this year…via YouTube video!!!  This may not seem like a big deal to most people in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something brand new for HICA – using video to tell our story, and we are so excited!

As promised, I’m posting the first in a four-part series of videos featuring Salsa Senorita’s Lori Sours who shares a delicious salsa recipe in each.  Lori is partnering with HICA again this year and we’ll have a large supply of her salsa on hand for purchase during tamale pick up day on Friday, Dec 18th at the HICA offices.

We also have a new feature for purchase this year.  In addition to the 1/2 dozen and full dozen tamales for sale in either pork, chicken or cheese & pepper fillings, you’ll have the option of purchasing something we are calling “All That and a Bag of Chips!”  This includes two 1/2 dozen orders of tamales, tortilla chips and a jar of Salsa Senorita – your flavor choice, all in a holiday bag!  So for that person who is hard to buy for or who has everything…why not pick up this new item for a Christmas or holiday gift?!

Remember, if you are in the Birmingham area, the tamale sale begins on Thanksgiving day and ends Friday, Dec 11th.  Go to www.hispanicinterest.org to make your purchase after you’ve had time to digest all that Thanksgiving turkey you’ll be devouring on Thursday!

Meanwhile, enjoy the video first HICA tamale promo video – created by Jessica Chriesman – and see how Lori makes a fantastic michelada beer cocktail using  her very own salsa!

Salsa Señorita, the Tamale Task Force and the HICA Tapes.

Carlos Aleman, Lori Sours, Clementine Tufts and myself at the HICA tamale sale video filming this month.

Carlos Aleman, Lori Sours, Clementine Tufts and myself at the HICA tamale sale video filming this month.

Sounds like Hispanic intrigue, doesn’t it? But it’s really a new way for the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – better known as HICA – to get the word out about their annual tamale sale!

Some of the many varieties of Salsa Señorita Salsa!

Some of the many varieties of Salsa Señorita Salsa!

Since our tamale sale took a little “siesta” last year we decided to create a Tamale Task Force of staff and board members to really amp things up this year!  I love it when creativity starts to flow and everyone throws out any and ALL ideas, no matter how crazy they may seem.  We narrowed down our list and decided to make a few YouTube videos.  We invited Lori Sours, co-creator of Salsa Señorita, to join us and make and share some of her tasty recipes using her delicious salsa.  Two years ago, Lori was gracious enough to partner with us on our 2013 tamale sale.  During tamale pick up day, we used to get questions like “do you have any salsa for sale to go with the tamales?”  – and so that year we had salsa on site for sale thanks to Lori!

UAB Film Making Graduate - Jessica Chriesman - works the angles during the tamale sale videos. This one features Lori Sours, co-creator of Salsa Senorita and Ernesto Martinez of Hacienda Grill.

UAB Film Making Graduate – Jessica Chriesman – works the angles during the tamale sale videos. This one features Lori Sours, co-creator of Salsa Senorita and Ernesto Martinez of Hacienda Grill.

We worked with UAB Film-making graduate, Jessica Chriesman, to create the videos and had a blast in the process.  Lori came ready with recipes for four segments.  Who knew you could make so many delicious dishes with salsa?  The first was a beer cocktail also called a michelada.  Seriously, there was salsa in that beer drink!  Lori also made a salsa slaw, guacamole with salsa and finally a salsa cheese dip!  Ernesto Martinez of Hacienda Mexican Grill did the michelada segment – lucky guy!  I got the slaw segment and not only did Lori add salsa to the slaw…she also added honey!  OMGEEE!  It was SO DELISH!  Never would have thought of that combination in a million years!

Carlos Aleman studies his lines as Lori Sours sets up for their guacamole segment of the HICA tamale sale videos.

Carlos Aleman studies his lines as Lori Sours sets up for their guacamole segment of the HICA tamale sale videos.

Carlos Aleman, History Professor at Samford University, got the guacamole segment.  I was a little jealous because I absolutely LOVE guacamole.  There was plenty though and we all dug into guac with chips between segments.  Maricela Garcia rounded things out with the cheese dip segment.  Before each segment began, we would run though lines and during Carlos’ and Lori’s segment, they got tickled about something and kept breaking out into laugher!  You know how it is…no matter how hard you try, you just keep breaking out into laughter?  That went on for a little while until we were all laughing.  I think we may have a great “out-takes’ video in the making!  Jessica was definitely patient with us all as we goofed up, goofed around and well…acted goofy!  (Thanks Jessica!)

Of course in addition to promoting Salsa Señorita and the recipes, we also had tamales on hand with information on how to order beginning Thanksgiving through December 11th.  We had pork, chicken and my favorite – cheese and pepper tamales in these videos.  I had not eaten much that day so I devoured whatever I could!

Photo opp with Lori after our salsa slaw segment.

Photo opp with Lori after our salsa slaw segment.

Spending the afternoon with Lori was the best.  She is so down to earth and really loves what she does.  A native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, she and her brother, Mark Coffman, created a salsa company based on their mother’s recipe.  They use all natural ingredients and as she describes – “it’s vegetables in a jar with a kick!”  Growing up she said her family put salsa on everything.  I told her I could relate with my own New Mexican family!  We got into an animated conversation about Hatch chile peppers and she told me she keeps a freezer full at her house.  I showed her a picture of my cousin Nino, in Alaska, getting ready to roast a huge batch of peppers and she said she could relate!

The videos will be ready soon.  I’ll provide the links so you can get a sense of the fun we had filming that day as well as the great salsa recipes.  And remember, if you are in the Birmingham area and want some great tamales, you can buy them through HICA’s website beginning Thanksgiving day through December 11th!  And guess what…we’ll be selling Salsa Senorita too!  Be sure to buy a jar or two on pick up day.  A portion of the proceeds will go to HICA!

Muchas gracias, Salsa Señorita!  And HUGE shout out to HICA staff members, Clementine Tufts and Holly Hilton for handling all the arrangements and logistics of the day!

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Tales of HICA Tamale Sales, Partnerships and Missing Fingerprints

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This is a promo photo I took before HICA Exec Director Isabel Rubio and I appeared on Fox 6 News in Birmingham to talk about the tamale sale.

To pick up from my last post and how the HICA tamale sale got started…here are a few memories and stories from the early years.

As the HICA tamale sale began to grow, the search for community partners began.  We needed kitchen space where we could make more tamales since we had outgrown the kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church.  Word was out about tamales so demand began to grow!  In 2005, HICA partnered with The Culinard and we were able to use their facilities to make tamales.  We had a successful year despite scorching a rather large pot of pepper tamales!  That just about broke my heart because I LOVE pepper tamales!!!

The next year – 2006 – we got really aggressive with our media.  I got a call from the Birmingham News one day asking if a reporter could come by my house and watch me make tamales.  It was a great opportunity to get the word out about the sale so of course, I said yes!  I immediately called my mom and we pulled together all the ingredients and got everything ready.  Now when you make tamales, you usually make a “ton” because they are so labor intensive.  In fact, in many families tamales are made in an assembly line fashion – as many as 60 dozen at a time!  So mom and I got to work to get things in order for the demonstration.

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This is a print of one of the articles that appeared in the Birmingham News about the tamale sale. The picture is of me in my kitchen loading tamales my mom and I made into my tamale pot to cook. Photo was taken by Bev Taylor of The Birmingham News. My husband framed this article for me as a Christmas present and it hangs in my kitchen.

Kellie Hewitt-Taylor of The Birmingham News was supposed to come to my house to interview me and take photos.  Instead she interviewed me over the phone due to a family emergency and sent photographer Bev Taylor to come by and take pictures.  Kellie said the story would run in the Wednesday Hoover Neighborhood section of the news.  Isabel Rubio, HICA’s executive director, and I were excited about getting this exposure figuring it would help boost sales a bit from the previous year.  Well, be careful what you wish for…

I picked up the Wednesday paper and found a small black and white photo of myself filling my tamale pot with tamales on page 2 or 3.  I thought – “this is nice!  I’m sure this will help sales…”  When I got to work, a co-worker called and said, “Hey!  I saw your picture in the newspaper today!”  I knew she didn’t live in Hoover so I was a little puzzled as she went on and on about the great color photo of me.  I was thinking – wait…the picture was in black and white!  Now I was REALLY confused!

Turns out the story now only hit the Hoover neighborhood section that day, it hit ALL of the neighborhood section in Birmingham! WHOA!  Our sales that year jumped to over 6K and we weren’t prepared for that.  But it gave us an opportunity to partner with some local Mexican restaurants to help fill the gaps in addition to what our volunteers were making.

Freddy Rubio works the tamale numbers on tamale pick up day to make sure HICA stays up to speed with the orders and the restaurants partnering with us to provide tamales.

Freddy Rubio works the tamale numbers on tamale pick up day to make sure HICA stays up to speed with the orders and the restaurants partnering with us to provide tamales.

For tamale pick up day that year I just remember the tamales coming into the HICA office in a steady stream.  All of us there volunteering that day spent a lot of time wrapping these piping hot tamales with Saran wrap and foil and labeling them by type.  I swear to you…I think my fingerprints burned off that day!  At the end of that day we were exhausted but thrilled at the success of the sale.  I know I was SO ready for a margarita!!!  Surprisingly, I also wanted a tamale!

Pork tamales wait their turn to get saran wrapped and foil wrapped for pick up.

Pork tamales wait their turn to get saran wrapped and foil wrapped for pick up.

The HICA tamale sale PRE-SALE has been extended until August 31st.  So, if you are in the Birmingham area, you can place your order online until that date.  Place your order today and when you come to HICA to pick up your order on December 18, let me know if you read about the tamale sale on my blog!

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Orders wait to be picked up. This is also a great time for HICA to tell their story to the community so we provide our latest newsletter and brochures of information about programs the tamale sale supports.

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A volunteer helps wrap the piping hot tamales with saran wrap – these are tamales that have come straight from one of the partner restaurants. The aroma that day of delivery was heavenly to say the least!!!

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This was also the first year HICA rented freezers to store tamales for pick up day. In this picture, volunteers load the freezers with freshly wrapped tamales awaiting pick up.

Tamales…Deliciousness in a Corn Husk!

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Tamales…so much deliciousness in a corn husk!  (NOTE: You don’t eat the corn husk!)

These little tasty meals have become synonymous with a local nonprofit I’ve been involved with for over 10 years by the name of HICA…as in “OH!  You’re on the HICA Board?!  I love your tamales sale!”

HICA’s tamale sale is back this year after a little “siesta” last year.  If you live in the Birmingham, Alabama area, you can pre-order right now until August 1st through the HICA website.  After that, the next window to order will be November 22 through December 11 through the website.  You can choose from three types of tamales:  pork with red sauce, chicken with green sauce and (my favorite!) pepper & cheese tamales.  The cost is $30 per dozen or $18 for 1/2 a dozen.  (Remember…this is a fundraiser!)  Tamale pick up will be at the HICA office on December 18th.

Not having the tamale sale last year was a big decision for the board and fund development committee.  HICA had just purchased a building – a new home –  in Homewood, AL, and there was so much happening to get the building settled and also pulling together our 15th anniversary event – or quinceañera – with the Birmingham Barons last June.  We just didn’t see how we could pull it off successfully with so much going on so, after much discussion we decided to cancel the sale in October and notified our tamale supporters of this decision.  We know people were disappointed but they understood and we promised to bring the sale back this year.  Personally, I’m so glad it’s back because pulling this fundraiser together is a true labor of love for those of us who’ve been involved over the years and have seen it grow.

HICA Volunteers making tamales one year in partnership with the Culinard.

HICA Volunteers making tamales one year in partnership with the Culinard.

HICA started the tamale sale 13 years ago around the Christmas holiday time as a fundraiser for the organization.  That very first year, supporters, board members and Hispanic community members got together in a volunteer’s kitchen and made hundreds of tamales into the wee hours of the morning to sell to the community at large.

The idea was to bring a little bit of Mexican culture and food to Birmingham.  In addition, tamales are a tradition around Christmas time to Mexican families.  Many people who have been exposed to the HICA tamale sale over the years have embraced tamales as their own tradition now too!

I have so many stories to tell about the tamale sale which I will do throughout this year leading up to the tamale pick up date on December 18.  I’ll also share a few tamale recipes along the way.  But for now, you have 8 days to pre-purchase your tamales!  Go ahead…you know you want to!

HICA has been grateful to the Piggy Wiggly in Homewood for many years for supplying grocery bags to contain the tamale orders.

HICA has been grateful to the Piggy Wiggly in Homewood for many years for supplying grocery bags to contain the tamale orders.

Here are a few fun facts about tamales from the HICA Website in case you need a little more encouragement to try them:

  • Tamales date back to the time of the Aztecs
  • Tamales can be sweet with fillings such as cinnamon and raisin or fruit.
  • There are around 1,000 types of tamales available all around Mexico.  Every region has its own variety of tamales.
  • In Mexico, tamales are often eaten during festivities, such as La Candelaria Day (Feb 2), Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Las Posadas and Christmas.
  • A Mexican tamale called the Zacahuil is three feet long and weighs about 150 pounds.
  • Tamales are not only part of Mexican culture, they are also part of Latin American culture.