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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Mérida gears up for its annual tamales festival

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A traditional type of Yucatecan tamale commonly known as vaporcito is served on the banana leaf it was cooked in. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Plaza Paseo Canek shopping center will host the 6th edition of Mérida’s annual tamales festival this weekend from 12 to 9 p.m.

The event will have no cover charge but organizers say capacity will be limited to ensure social distancing protocols.

During the event, several vendors will be selling tamales of several different types, including the Yucatecan Xpelón, as well as versions traditional to states like Puebla, Oaxaca, and Mexico City. 

From the Náhuatl, tamalli, the history of tamales stretches back thousands of years. They are made from a base of nixtamalized corn, which is stuffed with ingredients such as beans, meat, cheese, chilies, or vegetables and then steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf. 

In central Mexico, especially Mexico City, candied versions of tamales are also popular, coming in a wide variety of bright colors and flavors. 

Earlier: The top 9 botanas served for ‘free’ in Yucatán cantinas

Though delicious, tamales are extremely caloric. For this reason, several vendors have attempted to create new versions of this traditional dish that may appeal to more health-conscious consumers.

In recent years, vegan versión of tamales prepared with a mashed potato base have also begun to be offered — to the delight of some and to the horror of purists. 

During the Catholic festivity of Candlemas, known in Mexico as La Candelaria, tamales are traditionally served. They are provided by whoever found figures of baby Jesus in their slice of Rosca de Reyes back on Jan. 6. 
Tamales are also often served at social events such as birthday parties, as well as baptisms, and even as botana at bars and cantinas.

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