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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

< Back to Oral History project: Hot Tamale Trail


Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart, owner of Stewart’s Quick Mart in Cleveland, Mississippi, has been making and selling hot tamales since 1992. But he has been eating them since he was a kid. Robert’s grandmother, Lela Mae Killen, from New Orleans, had a tamale recipe of her own. She made them for her family to eat and put them up in jars to stock her pantry. When Robert was looking for a way to put a little extra money in his pocket, he turned to his grandmother’s recipe. But he made it his own. Robert has crafted beef and chicken tamales, but he makes more turkey-filled hot tamales these days. Regardless of the filling, Robert says that the key to a good hot tamale is in the spice. He puts spices in the meal, the meat, and the water used for simmering. The result is a bright red hot tamale, one that his grandmother would be proud of.

Date of interview:
2005-06-23 00:00

Amy C. Evans

Amy C. Evans

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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