Hispanic Heritage
Wrap Up a Tamale

Wrap Up a Tamale
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.39

     challenging words:    chiles, digest, drying, husk, masa, singular, spreader, tamal, tamale, generally, lard, purpose, important, iguana, mole, northwestern
     content words:    In Mexico, In Culiacan, In Veracruz, In Oxaca

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Wrap Up a Tamale
By Jane Runyon

1     Tamales are an important dish in Mexican cooking. The singular of tamales is tamal, but they are never made or served as just one. Tamales are like little packages. Corn dough is filled with vegetables or meat and then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves. If you order tamales in an American-Mexican restaurant, you might have it served with a sauce, or mole. In Mexico, it would be served plain.
2     It is believed that tamales were eaten by natives of Mexico long before Columbus found the new world. In those days, corn was softened by mixing it with wood ashes. Today, slaked lime is used for the same purpose. The softened corn makes grinding easier. It also makes the corn easier for a person's body to digest. The corn is ground into a coarse meal or powder.
3     The filling for the tamale changes according to where you are in Mexico. In Culiacan, a tamal filling may be made with beans, pineapple, and corn. In Veracruz, you might find corn and pork tamales. In Oxaca, the tamales are very large. They are seasoned with a special sauce called "black mole." In northwestern Mexico, the tamales are three or four feet long. The filling is usually made from red chiles and pork.

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