Las Tamaleras: Cooking up family holiday tradition

Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 10:38 PM CST
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The Ramirez family is preparing for their yearly Christmas party as they have for decades, by making tamales.

"We can do anywhere from 75 to 120 dozen," said Bella Mauldin.

That could be more than 1,400 tamales that will be enjoyed by family and friends at a holiday party the weekend before Christmas.

"Let me tell you, it's a very lengthy process. Everything was made from scratch. From shredding to seasoning, to making your own masa, soaking the corn husks," said Mauldin.

It's a labor of love. The women doing the cooking call themselves Las Tamaleras and they are proud descendants of Louis and Geneva Ramirez, who started it all.

"This was a way to celebrate because gifts weren't an option at the time. So to get together and celebrate the holidays, cook tamales, different foods and be together as a family was the most important thing," said Mauldin.

The reason and the recipe haven't changed.

"We give it a big cup of Ramirez love. That's all I can tell you," said Mauldin with a laugh.

These women do, however, teach younger generations to ensure the tamalada continues.

"My aunts are in their seventies. They drove here. They're out here mixing masa with their hands and instructing us and being the leaders. Telling us that, you know, we're next," said Mauldin.

Women like Aunt Olivia Trejo.

"From the right and wrong side of the husk and how much to spread, and how much meat to put in," said Trejo. "Lot of work but lots of fun."

As they spread, roll and pack the tamales, they're catching up on life and feeling thankful to continue what their ancestors started.

"To me, as you get older the only thing that matters is being with your family and having a good time," said Trejo.