We've combed the West for the very best flavor experiences, all worthy of a culinary pilgrimage
Try our tamale-inspired recipes at home:
For a moment, the parade rolling down Oasis Street in Indio, California, could be any hometown extravaganza. Here come the high-school bands in their furry shako hats, the drill teams in sequined magenta, and the local politicos in flag-bedecked Cadillacs. Then comes a float bearing a mariachi band that plays a sweet, sorrowful song, and there, waving from the back of the float is … a giant tamale. The Indio International Tamale Festival, held every December in this desert town east of Palm Springs, celebrates the cornhusk-wrapped masa-dough and savory-filling concoction that is Mexico’s gift to the mouths of the world. Hundreds of vendors sell hundreds of thousands of tamales to more than 160,000 attendees over the festival’s two days. And prizes are given to tamale cooks in categories of traditional and gourmet (those chocolate, strawberry, or pumpkin numbers). The winners are different, but they have one thing in common: All are made with care and love.