HOT Tamales!

by Kathryn Camp

After they are steamed, they are ready to share, unwrap and enjoy!

At Roaring Fork High School, there are no global borders on friendship. In Ms. Denise Wright’s World Traveler Club, students who are eager to understand and experience other cultures find ways to travel the world – both figuratively through sharing stories and food in the classroom, and literally, by raising funds to visit other countries.  Every year during Spring Break, club members explore a foreign destination chosen by the students. The trips are made attainable to any child who wants to go – and works to raise their own funds – through individual saving and school fundraisers.

This year, 15 students will travel to Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome. The group, which includes teens of both English and Spanish-speaking families, is learning key phrases in French and Italian in preparation for their 10 day tour of Europe. They are also learning about the customs and histories of the places they will visit, so they can fully immerse themselves in the experience.

The students are also experiencing a variety of world food customs through their fundraising efforts. Last summer, they worked with the RFHS Booster Club to offer a Greek-style Gyro Booth at Carbondale’s Mountain Fair. They followed this effort by selling and producing more than 60 dozen tamales before the holidays this winter.

This large-scale Tamale production was made possible through the help of Alma Ruth and Selma Guzman, whose son / grandson will travel with the club to Europe this Spring. The pair taught the students their family’s Tamale recipe, then worked alongside the kids, other parents and their teacher throughout a 10+ hour Tamale-wrapping fiesta.

Tamales are a favorite holiday food throughout Latin America because the filling is symbolic of the baby Jesus. The corn husk or banana leaves symbolize the swaddling clothes that Mary wrapped around her child. Plus, like the exchange of Christmas gifts, Tamales are wrapped, shared and unwrapped, with a delicious treasure inside.

Here is a step-by-step demo of the Tamale-wrapping process, including Alma and Selma Guzman’s secret for no-stick, easy pressing of the masa Tamale dough. The recipe, with complete directions and ingredients list can be found HERE.