Reno’s Cafe

Pearl Johnson
310 W. McLaurin St.
Greenwood, MS 38930
(662) 455-6284

Pearl Johnson has been making hot tamales by hand for fifty years. Originally from Charleston, Mississippi, her first job was at the old Lucas Bar-B-Que in Greenwood, where she learned to make this unique Delta delicacy. After Lucas Bar-B-Que closed its doors, Mrs. Johnson worked at the Baldwin Piano factory in town until it closed. Now Mrs. Johnson’s daughter owns her own place, Reno’s Cafe, and Mrs. Johnson makes tamales there regularly. She also sells them to other restaurants in Greenwood, namely the new Giardina’s and The Flatland Grill. When asked if she has a secret to making her tamales, Mrs. Johnson replies, “Well, no. Not really. It’s just the idea of knowing, you know, how much stuff to use in it.” And she definitely uses all the right stuff. Mrs. Johnson’s tamales are some of the best tamales around.

Date of interview:

June 9, 2003

Interviewer:

Amy C. Evans

Photographer:

Amy C. Evans

Reno's Cafe - Pearl Johnson - MS - Tamale Trail
Well, the corn shucks is real expensive, and then you have to boil them, and a lot of them tear up. They real good with the corn shucks, now. To me, the taste better, but they’re hard to find.

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