NM Christmas: Traditional tamale-making | KOB 4

NM Christmas: Traditional tamale-making

KOB.com Web Staff
December 14, 2017 10:27 PM

Editor's note: This is the third story in a series. For part one, click here. For part 2, click here.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Many New Mexicans can't have Christmas without tamales. They're a tradition for families all across the state.

A family was willing to share those special moments with Tessa Mentus and Danielle Todesco. They did their best to assemble them while also learning that it means so much more than the masa and chile that goes into it.

Veronica Campos let Tessa and Danielle into her home deep in the heart of the South Valley to create a tamale assembly line. Her mother, Yolanda, speaks mostly Spanish but she's fluent in the art of tamales.

"She's been making them for 40 years," Veronica said. "I've been making them for about 28.

They used about 14 pounds of meat for just one round of tamale assembly. Veronica and her family spend weeks putting them all together.

There were only four people working that day in the quiet teaching of how to spread the masa. You don't realize until you're done how much you've learned about the person teaching you. Veronica learned from her mother and mother in law.

"The Viegas would all get together and all the guys would play football while all the moms, the cousins, everybody would get together to make the tamales," she said. "It was a big old family thing."

That's how she prefers it: everyone gathered around, dishing the latest on their lives.   It's her time to catch up with her kids, but Veronica said her kids only help when she tricks them into it.

"They would bring their cousins and their friends to come help so the faster we got through this, the faster they could get out of here," she said with a laugh.

But she knows they would miss it if the tradition stopped.


KOB.com Web Staff

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