In Latin America, hot tamales are as ubiquitous as the sandwich. This holds true in, of all places, the Mississippi Delta. Better known for its association with cotton and catfish, the Mississippi Delta has a fascinating relationship with tamales. In restaurants, on street corners, and in kitchens throughout the Delta, this very old and time-consuming culinary tradition remains vibrant. But how and when were hot tamales introduced to what has been called “the most Southern place on earth”? And why have they stayed? There are as many answers to those questions as there are tamale recipes. Oral history interviews with tamale makers and vendors in the Delta today offer us some answers. They reveal the various ways in which tamale recipes have been acquired and how they have evolved, helping to explain the persistence of hot tamales in the Mississippi Delta.
READ MORE about the history of tamales in the Mississippi Delta in our introduction, Hot Tamales & The Mississippi Delta.
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Together with Viking Range Corporation, we created the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail in an effort to document the history, tradition, and culture of hot tamales from Tunica to Vicksburg, offering cultural tourists a complete guide to a unique culinary experience. So head to the Mississippi Delta, which has been called “the most Southern place on earth” for its unique history, music, culture, and yes, its food.
Grab a shuck and go!
Amy Evans Streeter, SFA Oral Historian