The first tamales I had were about the size of cigars, wrapped in something like parchment paper and pulled from a can. My mom wasn’t one for drive-thru eating, so this was her style of fast food. Sometimes, on a lazy evening, we would heat them in the oven with shredded cheddar over the top and call it dinner.
Then, a little more than a decade ago I tried a traditionally made tamale, wrapped in a cornhusk and steamed. As you’ve guessed, it was not at all like what we’d eaten from a can.
Since then I’ve had it in mind to try making tamales at home. But those little cornhusk packets looked so fancy, so exotic; I assumed it would be an all day ordeal.