Ask Tom, Answer Gansie: How-To Edition

hot tamale man

Through my work with Express, I’ve become a sell-out. I’ll explain. I’m in bed with the PR folks. The PR folks will host a “media dinner” I will then eat for free and in return write a *totally non-biased* review. I swear.

Anyway, at my latest comped meal Angie and I ate our way through a deliciously free meal at Restaurant K by Alison Swope, which I then reviewed.

As you’ll see, we tried the tamales. As Angie is from Texas and has a Honduran mother, she knows her tamales: even knowing the difference between the Tex-Mex and Central American versions. So while she clearly knew what to make of them, I am still sorting my way through the technicalities of the dish. Which made me totally laugh when I saw the following thread during Tom Seitsema’s WaPo chat.

one / tom is sure one hot tamale

Ashburn, Va.: This may sound stupid, but I have never ordered tamales at a restaurant just because I have no idea how to eat them. Do I pick them up, or do I eat with a fork? What do I do with the stuff covering them? (And what IS that? It’s not edible, right?) Do I put sauce on them? Please help end my tamale illiteracy!

Tom Sietsema: Tamales, which involve corn meal dough (typically) wrapped around cheese, vegetables or meat, are bundled in husks, which must be removed before you dig into the steamed filling. I eat tamales with a fork. Sauce is optional.


Tamales. ..: true story. I’m an adventurous eater. My first time at Red Sage some years ago, I saw tamales on the menu. Having never had them, of course I ordered them. I didn’t know how to eat them so I ate them all. It took me some months before I figured out why the waiter had such a quizzical look on his face when he removed the plate.

Tom Sietsema: Funny!

I’ve admitted in this forum that I, too, ate my first tamale — part of it, anyway — with its husk on. Decades ago, I should add.

gansie: like i said before, i’m not so familiar with the tamale (read the review – i compare the dough to a matzah ball!), although i should be – it’s quite delicious! and i can’t lie, i’ve absolutely tried to eat the husk before.  and one more thing, does anyone know where the phrase “hot tamale” came from?

two / deliciousness is where the heart is

Monrovia, MD: My faux pas was artichokes. The first time I had them I could not understand why everyone was raving about them – that skin seemed mighty tough to me!

Tom Sietsema: Join the club. I had my Artichoke Moment, too. (What a way to get your daily dose of fiber, I recall thinking.)

gansie: although i advocate for fresh veggies, it was only a month ago when i had my first real live steamed artichoke. in all my recipes that include artichokes, i’ve always used the jarred kind. and while i think that it is probably the way to go, the real thing is amazing (if not a bit hard to eat.) i can get behind anything whose purpose is a vehicle for butter consumption. and, yes liza, i’m putting the pressure on, ES will shortly publish a fresh artichoke recipe. (ps—did i use the correct whose/who’s ?)

three / make yourself at home, take your shell off

my eating faux pas…: was edamame beans. I didn’t know that you were supposed to just eat the beans and not the shell. Finally, I figured it out, the second or third time eating them. I like them now, but I really thought they were gross when I was eating the whole bean….

Tom Sietsema: You kids are cracking me up today.

gansie: now i have to say, i never had a problem eating edamames (can that be plural?) and as i’m writing this, i’m thinking: i haven’t had this great sushi-starter in some time. and as artichoke being a butter boat, i love the fact that edamame’s almost soul purpose is to eat major amounts of large salt crystals. and this also makes me wonder, what else can one do with edamames. i know i’ve seen recipes for other uses, but i’d be curious to see others. feel free to leave ideas for me in the comments.

Full Transcript / Photo: Vitaphone Varities

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  • Maidelitala April 25, 2008  

    i like to eat whole edamame pods and sunflower seeds with the shell on. What can I say, I’m a salt fiend… and mama always said, “never spit.” I even swallow gum.

  • gansie April 25, 2008  

    i hate swallowing gum. i used to make my high school boyfriend swallow my gum for me. i guess that’s what romance is at age 16.

  • 80 Proof April 25, 2008  

    Shift key not working these days Gansie?

  • gansie April 25, 2008  

    it’s my blog, i can lower case if i want to!

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