If you find yourself in Chicago, chances are that tamales are a stone’s throw away from your location. The energy-packed bundles of masa and meat, wrapped in leaves and cooked in steam, are as much an everyday early breakfast catered from a street vendor and paired with thick, sweet corn-based drinks like atole or champurrado as they are a festive meal that gathers families in their complex preparation.
As is the case with many of Mexico’s most iconic dishes, modern-day tamales are a product of a collision of worlds and belief systems. Their diversity (there are more than 500 documented varieties in Mexico alone) speaks to the accessibility of ingredients, techniques, tools, traditions, and personal touch: there is only one best abuelita recipe for tamales, and every family has it.
When it comes to tamales in the city, Chicagoans are lucky. There’s a vast selection of choices here, from uchepos and corundas from Michoacán, the spicy bean tamal from Guerrero, and Oaxacan and Central American variations, plus an array of dishes with similar executions hailing from South America to the Caribbean. With Día de la Candelaria (February 2) approaching, now is the perfect time to enjoy one (or many) tamales in Chicago.
As of January 3, the city has mandated that those ages 5 and up be fully vaccinated and masked at public places indoors while not actively eating or drinking. For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 dashboard. Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.Read More