While in the supermarket I found myself in front of a display of dried corn husks. I stood there, lost in memories of all the tamales I had eaten: the sweet, cinnamon-flavored ones from a little place on lower State Street in Santa Barbara before the freeway went through, the one’s that my friend Lodi’s mother made every year for Christmas. But I quailed at the thought of the time and energy required to make tamales. Then I thought of the tamale pie our neighbor, Aileen, used to make in the 60’s.
The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink informs us that tamale pie showed up in the early 1900’s and became enshrined in the 1905 Los Angeles Times Cook Book No. 2. According to the Oxford the high point of tamale pie was in 1956 when the Loyalty Cook Book: Native Daughters of the Golden West by Willow Borba was published with nineteen recipes for tamale pie.
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