Making Tamales With Barrio Cafe's Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza

Aren't they adorable? I made these tiny tamales myself, and can't wait to gobble them up.
​Last week I met up with three girlfriends for a fabulous early Christmas treat: a tamale-making class at Barrio Cafe.

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza is one sassy sensei. I'd happily take another one of her classes again.

Chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza led a full house through a step-by-step tutorial on creating these scrumptious, bite-sized versions of the traditional Mexican holiday food, and she was a real hoot -- confident, funny, and full of energy. (Did you know that joint-rolling skills come in handy when making tamales? Good to know!)

This particular event was a special fundraiser for the Calle 16 Mural Project, but I can honestly envision her turning cooking classes into a heck of a side business, because everyone was having a blast -- chatting with each other, getting pointers from Esparza, experimenting with different tamale-wrapping techniques, and swigging delicious margaritas.

Apparently, getting tipsy and gossiping is the most authentic way to make tamales.


Tasty tamale fillings.


The tables were set with bowls full of goodies -- gobs of fresh masa, plump shrimp, kicky chile Colorado, green chile pork, chicken in a deep, dark mole sauce, roasted poblanos, corn, olives, red onion, and two kinds of cheese.​

Trust me, you'll go through a plate of corn husks in no time.

Somewhere around margarita number two, staffers brought out plates of softened corn husks and bright green banana leaves for wrapping the tamales.


We tore off wide strips of husk, knotted the ends, and split them in half to create ties for the rolled-up treats. Then, we spooned masa onto bigger pieces of husk or leaf, wrapped them into tootsie rolls or pouches or little square packages, and tied them up.

Tamale-making can be really addicting, especially when you're with friends and you have a cocktail nearby.

It took some of us a little time to get the hang of it, but before long, we were all wrapping tamales like pros. Everyone contributed a few handmade creations to a communal pot of tamales that were steamed while we continued working. Our reward was eating them at the end of the class.

My goodness, were they heavenly -- not only because the fillings were delectable, but because a healthy dose of lard made that masa just melt on my tongue.

Hungry yet? I sure am.

Check back tomorrow for a recipe and tamale-making tips.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

It was FUN, informative, & delicious.

Now Trending

From the Vault