I already knew how to make tamales [from]…watching a friend of mine’s grandmother [make them]. [Hers] are tied at both ends…folded at both ends. And these are left open at the [one] end, and they sit up in the pot. The other ones, you lay them down in the pot.
Airport Grocery (formerly The Shanty)
3806 HWY 61 North
Cleveland, MS 38732
Jonathan Vance, a native of Benoit, Mississippi, owns Airport Grocery in Cleveland, Mississippi. When he opened the restaurant in 1992, Jonathan wanted to honor the Delta hot tamale tradition. His grandfather was a friend of renowned tamale-maker Joe Pope of Joe’s Hot Tamale Place, a.k.a. White Front Café, in Rosedale. Mr. Pope was generous enough to share his expertise with the Vance family. Pope’s tamale recipe has been used since the beginning. Tamara Calhoun makes the tamales for Airport Grocery according to Joe Pope’s method.
NOTE: When this interview was conducted, Jonathan Vance operated two restaurants in Cleveland: Airport Grocery on Highway 8 and The Shanty on Highway 61. Today, Vance operates just Airport Grocery, which is in the old Shanty location on Highway 61.
Date of interview: June 23, 2005Interviewer: Amy C. EvansPhotographer: Amy C. Evans