Healing Hearts...One Tamale At A Time - Counter Intelligence: Confessions of A Working Mom Blog at Allrecipes.com - 262261

Counter Intelligence: Confessions of A Working Mom

Healing Hearts...One tamale at a time 
Dec. 28, 2011 4:57 pm 
Updated: Jan. 3, 2012 1:34 pm
Just a quick heartwarming holiday story. It’s about Tias and Tamales.
 This holiday season is a pretty significant one for me.  This is the year that I am documenting one of the most prized of my family traditions…tamale making.  My mom and Tias (aunts in Spanish) and cousins over the last 50 years have made thousands of tamales.  Not just any tamales, but the best ever.  The most super flavorful, fluffy, meaty tamales you will ever taste…EVER.  And, there is a secret to this recipe that I will never be able to share with you unless I kill you, and I’m not ready to spend the rest of my life in jail and never have tamales again. 
Ok, I’ll give up one secret ingredient…
No, we don’t put Malibu Rum in the tamales but sometimes masa ends up in your Malibu Baybreeze, and after the 5th one…I don’t notice much.
So anyways, the whole point of my story is to show how food can bring people together.  Last weekend before Christmas, we rounded off the last of our tamale making.   Malibu Baybreezes flowing…aunts and cousins spreading masa, and of course colorful conversation about each other and everyone and everything else. When, somehow, my one Tia is brought up in conversation.  We call her “Tia Chavety”.  Don’t ask me what a “Chavety” is, but it’s a valid nickname I’m sure.  My Tia Chavety lost her son last year, one of my dear cousins…who was a (remarkable) chef by trade.  He was a wonderful chef and artist of food and just about everything else.  So this loss was quite hard for her (and us)and she had a couple other hardships with two other of her grown children.  At that time, for whatever reason, possibly her grieving…she distanced herself from the family.  My mom and my other Tia were heartbroken.  My mom even tried reaching out to my Tia Chavety, but for some reason my aunt was just not ready.
After a few drinks on Saturday the mention of taking my Tia Chavety tamales was brought up.  Everyone kind of joked who would take them since they might get turned away.  Since having had my share of rum…I volunteered to do it…being that I was once her favorite niece.  So I went and she received me with open arms.  It was a lovely visit and I told her how we all missed her and we talked about misunderstandings and stubbornness.  I really tried to convince her to come and visit my mom and my other aunt since they only live less than 2 miles away and she got a bit suspicious as to my motives like saying “who sent you?”  But I reassured her that I’ve been writing a lot about my memories of childhood and how much that involved her and her cooking with her sisters and how much her sisters love and miss her.  Many of my uncles and aunts have passed already and it’s just the 3 sisters now.  She didn’t relent and I didn’t push any further and we talked about my late cousin and other family…then I went on my way with a promise of another visit.
So, fast forward to December 21st…I get a text with this picture attached….
Yes, it’s my aunt surprising my mom with a visit and them tearfully hugging.  My son, who also went with me to visit my Tia, called me to say that my aunt walked in and my mom was very shocked and called out to her “MI HERMANA” (MY SISTER!).   I really wished I could’ve been there. 
I guess the moral to this story is to not let misunderstandings and time passed keep you from being with loved ones.  Life is way too short.  We really shouldn’t wait for sentimental holidays or funerals to reunite…but I’m not going to be picky. 
Is there someone in your life that you had a falling out with…and now don’t even remember why?  Would you regret not extending yourself to this person if they were to die today??  Sorry to get so heavy…but I’m in a heavy mood…(maybe because I ate so many tamales this year).
Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Meant for this post to be submitted the day it happened, but it’s been crazy since Thanksgiving.  Better late than never..
Buen Provecho
Malibu Rum
Photo Detail
Sisters Unite...Reunite I mean
Photo Detail
Dec. 28, 2011 6:03 pm
How truly wonderful! Such a beautiful story. I hope it is the beginning of many happy times together! Thanks for sharing!
Dec. 28, 2011 6:43 pm
Cheers! What a great story.
Dec. 28, 2011 7:10 pm
Your story about sisters getting back together is very heart-warming. I love all the conversation and fun that goes into making the tamales. My family lost the tamale making for awhile. Now, the tamales-I love them, I have helped make them-but when my grandma passed away-no one in my family knew how to make them. I was in my teens when my grandma passed away. Then, too young to think how important tradition was. Now years later, my daughter has married a very wonderful young man whose family makes tamales and I am indeed fortunate to learn how to make tamales with his family. I hope to write down the recipe to keep for the next generation. Wish you the best in 2012-1st Lady!
Dec. 28, 2011 8:07 pm
Every single person I know (seriously) has a falling out with a family member or close friend. Your story is heartwarming and a warning to get it done NOW! Thanks, 1st Lady! Nice to see you! Hope to see you again soon.
Dec. 29, 2011 4:34 am
May your family enjoy many more years of unity and togetherness. Great message for the beginning of the new year! TYhank you.
Dec. 29, 2011 4:47 am
What a great blog and a great message, 1st Lady. I am so glad to see that the sisters have re-united. The tamale making tradition is fabulous and serves as the glue that holds families together. Our time here is limited and shouldn't be wasted. Thanks for sharing this with us. Blessing to you and your family in the New Year.
Dec. 29, 2011 6:04 am
What a lovely story to share!
Dec. 29, 2011 10:26 am
I know what the secret ingredient is! LOVE!
Dec. 29, 2011 10:56 am
Hi All. I hope my aunt comes around more...for selfish reasons. She makes the best tortillas of all my aunts (shh, don't tell my mom I said that). I did a video diary of tamales because I am very forgettful, but it was a lot of fun! Cheers to all of you and another blessed year!!
Dec. 29, 2011 4:41 pm
There, you've made me cry. Happy now? Really, that's a wonderful story, and a timely reminder of the power of love. Thanks for sharing your family with us. Now about that tamale recipe?
Dec. 30, 2011 8:11 am
I would love to scream that tamale recipe from the mountain tops, but see that lady on the right in that picture?? That's my mom, and I'm afraid what she might do to me. But posole recipe is coming soon.
Dec. 30, 2011 3:19 pm
What a lovely Christmas present for the whole family! I had just remarked to a friend that her (large) extended family is unique because in the 20 odd years I have known them there has never been any serious disagreements and they are the only people like that I know. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.
Jan. 2, 2012 7:55 pm
I understand about the distance between family members, the estrangement. It is painful, even for those not directly involved. Very glad the ice has been broken for these two, a perfect Christmas gift for all!
Jan. 3, 2012 1:34 pm
This story brought tears to my eyes. And it all started with tamales.....
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1st Lady

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Covina, California, USA

Member Since
Nov. 2004

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About Me
Born in Mexico...raised a California girl, I'm always trying to find my roots with my cooking. I have a big family with my mom as matriarch and master cook. So I have some big shoes to fill.
My favorite things to cook
I love cooking food that my mom always made when we were younger. She doesn't really have any recipes, so it's a challenge. Every time she cooks, it's a unique experience since variations on ingredients are never the same. I also love Mexican food El Paso style. I would like to dabble more in Italian and Filipino dishes. My all time fav is BBQ and down home Southern comfort food.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I come from a Mexican Family. Family gatherings center around the kitchen and dinning areas. I love having family around the kitchen cooking, sitting around the dinner table talking, laughing,joking, drinking and eating.
My cooking triumphs
Mastered flour tortillas in 2013!!!
My cooking tragedies
That I mastered flour tortillas in 2013...I think I gained 5 lbs in one week.
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