Put Some South in Your Mouth

Think of tamales in the United States, and you probably think of Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, even California. But Mississippi has a hot tamale tradition all its own. And thanks to an ongoing oral history project by the Southern Foodways Alliance, this tasty commingling of race, class, and good eating is finally getting the attention it deserves.

The SFA’s Tamale Trail, a tamale-by-tamale map of famous Delta masa makers, was recently written up in Relish magazine. Writes author Brooks Hamaker, “Trekkers on the Trail will find full-service restaurants, tiny stands constructed of corrugated tin, pushcarts and every conceivable size of business in between.”

As a result of the piece, SFA oral historian Amy Evans has been swamped with calls by hungry tamale-seekers from all over the country, so she’s tracked down some vendors willing to ship. The website’s also full of recorded interviews with local tamale purveyors, explaining the persistence of this spicy treat throughout the Deep South.

Look for even more about Evans and the Tamale Trail this summer in Travel + Leisure magazine.

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