December 25, 2004

East LA Xmas tamale pilgrimage

Originally posted by Xeni Jardin from Boing Boing, reBlogged by ts

Xeni Jardin: Phonecam snapshots from a family pilgrimage to the best tamale shop in Los Angeles, Tamales Lilianas, on First street near Cesar Chavez. We passed some beautiful makeshift Christmas altares in the street, big murals of la virgen de guadalupe all decked out with tinsel and fake pine wreaths and Hello Kitty and blinkie Snoopy lights. And guys on the street were selling pirated CDs of of Mexican holiday pop music. Cheesy carols from Los Bukis and stuff, bootlegged, on blankets. I love the street in East LA this time of year.

Tamales are an essential holiday tradition in Mexico and in every place where Mexico is felt. Christmas without them is like going tree-less. There’s always a long line at Lilianas if you wait until Christmas Eve to go pick them up, but the longest of lines is a small penitencia to pay for that fragrant corn vapor that fills the car on the drive home. If there is a perfect scent, this is it. I sat in the back seat, with the bag pulled up around my face like I was huffing glue. Maybe Liliana sneaks a little crack into the masa or something. Me intoxican. De dulce, de rajas con carne, de pollo con chile verde, y sencillo, de elote. Irresistibles.
Larger phone-snap images: Steaming hot bag of fresh tamales, La Virgen on Cesar Chavez, and long line outside Lilianas.