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Tamale Fiesta in Zwolle

Submitted by on September 27, 2009 – 5:13 pmNo Comment

Zwolle Tamale FiestaHot tamales are the signature draw for the annual Tamale Fiesta at the Festival Grounds in Zwolle, Louisiana. This year’s dates are October 8-10, 2009. The food fest celebrates the rich Spanish and Indian heritage of the town, which was originally an Indian village. It was for many years occupied by the Spanish Province of Texas, and was settled by the descendants of French and Spanish adventurers (who intermarried with the Native Americans) plus English-speaking settlers from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. In the late 1800s, the area that is now Zwolle was turned into a whistle stop along the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The town was named for a town in Holland, in honor of a prominent Dutch visitor. The Fiesta itself stems from a combination of the Indians and Spanish culinary efforts to produce the most delectable hot tamale in the country. And, Road Trip Foodies, there’s a cookbook you can order featuring the best recipes from past fiestas.

la_zwolle2Just to get you in the mood, here’s a recipe:

10 pounds of pork (1 ½ hog heads) or a 10-pound pork roast
One gallon shelled, yellow corn
½ cup of pickling lime
Broth from the meat
Ground red pepper
Black pepper
30 dozen corn shucks

Boil meat until tender; bone and grind finely; sauté garlic in small amount of lard; add home ground red pepper to taste for hot, medium or lightly seasoned tamales; salt the ground meat.

Boil shelled yellow corn in water with the lime in a large wash pot until the husks fall off the corn kernels and the corn becomes tender; Wash corn about 11 times to remove the lime, then drain.

The next day, have corn ground; mix with pure lard, meat broth and then salt to taste. Lard keeps the tamale dough from being sticky; test on palm or hand and if dough doesn?t stick to palm, then it is ready.

Wash and scald corn shucks; drain off water; place flattened corn shuck in palm of one hand with the other hand, daub corn mixture onto the cornshuck spreading it crosswise to both edges leaving both ends of the length-wise shuck free of dough, when a thin layer is daubed into the shuck; spread a heaping teaspoon of the meat mixture lengthwise over the dough; roll shuck lengthwise and fold one end over about two inches.

Stand tamales with folded ends down in a large cooker until the bottom is completely packed; Pour in about three inches of water—but do not cover the tamales. Fill the pot with the rest of the tamales which will be about ½ the recipe. Cover tightly and cook slowly for about 1 ½ hours—repeat for the second half of the recipe.

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