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© 2004-2016 Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

Local Color

Part of the Tucson supermarket shopping experience is the man or woman standing near the entrance, whispering “fresh tamales” as you walk by. I’ve never seen a supermarket employee – or a cop – harass these vendors, and that’s a good thing. I’m not so naive as to believe they actually make these tamales at home, but I have to say the tamales they sell are fresh indeed, far better than the tamales for sale inside the grocery store.

Tamale Man

Tamale Man

When I lived in Anchorage, no one ever hustled fresh salmon outside the Safeway. Nor, in Honolulu, do Hawaiians whisper “fresh pineapple” to passing strangers. So I assumed these tamale entepreneurs were unique to the Southwest, perhaps unique to Tucson. But when I told a relative about them, she told me her mother used to buy fresh tamales from street peddlers in Missouri back in the 1950s. Caramba!Okay, so maybe this isn’t a big deal. But the tamales here – the shredded beef ones, anyway – always have a Spanish olive tucked inside. Do your tamales have that?

Damn, now I’m all hungry . . .

Addemdum, Saturday, Nov 13: Every year the local paper publishes a “Best of Tucson” list. Last year the list included this entry: “Tamale lady in front of Bookmans at Grant and Campbell.”

© 2004 – 2008, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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