Culinary students experience ‘tamalada’

Jan. 13, 2022 

Connally High School student Tanya Rodriguez In Texas, chances are you’re either very familiar with a tamalada, or are very unfamiliar with them.

While Connally High School student Tanya Rodriguez can’t imagine Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or New Year’s Eve, or “pretty much any gathering” without a tamalada, most of her friends have never been to one.

For those unfamiliar, a tamalada is a traditional cooking of tamales, Mexican dishes of seasoned meat stuffed in dough and wrapped in corn husks or palm fronds. While individuals can take part in a tamalada by themselves, the labor-involved process usually consists of several participants.

Nowadays, easier options readily present themselves in the shape of pre-packaged, microwaveable tamales at local grocery stores, so the tamalada has gone the way of tortilla-making in many Hispanic households – harder and harder to come by.

But as is the case in store-bought vs. homemade desserts, the outcome is often considered incomparable, which was the impetus for the tamalada at Connally on Dec. 16, two days before students went on Winter Break. 

Connally Culinary chef Brian Sedatole hosted the session, with Rodriguez, from Guerrero, Mexico, slated to lead it, with her mother. However, when the event was postponed a day, Rodriguez’ mother was unable to attend, leaving the high school junior in charge. 

It was an assignment she handled with ease, leading her Culinary I classmates through the process she’s been involved in since elementary school.

With Chef Sedatole having purchased pre-made dough, or masa, the class was spared some labor, but the dough still had to be kneaded and mixed with warm lard, so there was still intensive labor involved.

The class also created the tamale filling, in this case consisting of pork and dried poblano chile peppers, or “chili anchos.” Rodriguez later instructed classmates on how to fill the dough, and then how to cover the tamales in corn husks. 

For more on Connally Culinary and the dishes its students are cooking up, contact Pflugerville ISD Career and Technical Education Instructional Specialist Amber Ham at .