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Tamale Day at the McMahon’s

My youngest brother married one of the brightest and most talented women I know. She has even spoken in my classes as someone who started and sold a business and the students loved her as well. There are so many things she can do it would be easy to be intimidated except she is just so nice.  And while I appreciate her professional skills, I am most grateful for her introduction of the annual Tamale Day tradition to our Scots-Irish family.

I think I have participated for the last five years, and I am not sure why I didn’t before that because I know I was invited. But for whatever reasons I am relatively new to the all day family affair. This year my youngest daughter joined us, and she said this was her third or fourth year at Tamale Day.  I have learned a few things over the years. I bring aprons for myself and my daughter.  I take off my rings and watch, since besides handling food all day I am also always washing my hands. And, the most important thing I have learned is to come hungry.  Besides preparing food, a variety of tamales, we also eat!

There is always a combination of Mexican and Italian foods, the favorites of the families. This year we grazed on posole (topped with cabbage and fresh limes) and pasta with the remaining cherry tomatoes and fresh basil from my daughter’s first garden.  Of course there were many sweets, cookies and pies and pastries representing too many cultures to track. As for beverages, now I am not sure this is the same in all Tamale Day celebrations but we are big on champagne and mimosas to add to the festivities.

The blending of cultures is one of the most wonderful aspects of US life. As a country of immigrants, with the exception of those Mexicans and Native Americans who were here, we have all had the opportunity to incorporate many celebrations, rituals, recipes, and foods of other cultures into our daily routines. We sometimes forget what we learn from each other and how what we learn enriches our lives.  There is much conflict around the world and certainly in this country. We spend too much time, in my opinion, looking for what makes us different. And yet while I think we are more similar than different, it is that difference that brings us the richness of what makes us whole.

The McMahon Tamale Day has become such a hit in the big city that this year when my extended family heads north to our little cabins in forests and woods of northern Wisconsin, my sister in law is hosting a second Tamale Day for our family up there. This will be the first annual North Woods McMahon Tamale Day Celebration and as you might imagine the excitement is building!


Posole Recipe

Details on Tamale Day

North Woods Wisconsin