I dont buy cookbooks to cook, but rather to understand what Im eating. This was an excellent guide with 60 color pictures accompanying the recipes and 15 illustrations for the 15 different ways to fold a corn husk or banana leaf. It covers the various regional styles along with the names tamales are called in those areas:
Tamal - Cuba, Mexico, South & Central America, Philippines
Bimemas & Guineos Caribbean
Bollo - Colombia
Corunda - Michoacáln, Mexico
Hallaca - Venezuela
Humita - Bolivia & Ecuador
Nacatamal - Nicaragua
Paches & Chuchitos - Guatemala:
Pamonhas Northern Brazil
Pastelles Trinidad, Puerto Rico
Zacahuil (Mexico's largest tamal) - Vera Cruz, Mexico:
And even though it may be called a tamal in a number of places, the styles are different for each country. I always prefer the moist and almost soupy Central American tamales filled with green olives and meat rather than the drier Mexican tamal.
Theres a history of tamales (Pre-Columbian so that traveling armies had an easily to carry food to take with them). Also there is everything about how to create a tamale - the equipment, ingredients, assembly, steaming, testing for doneness, serving, storing, freezing, reheating and even how to ship tamales to loved ones.
Theres a discussion of the different masas fresh masa, masa harina and South American cooked masa. There are also recipes for fat-free masa and vegan masa. Masa can be made of corn, plantains or even rice flour.
In addition to traditional recipes there are creative recipes like king crab tamales, chiles en nogada tamales and even sage tamales a different way to serve the Thanksgiving stuffing. There are a few sweet tamale recipes that include pumpkin mmmm.
Who knew there was so much to know about the humble tamal?