Chef Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria | Courtesy of Life &Thyme

A Cross-Cultural Hot Tamale Love Affair

In partnership with Southern Foodways Alliance: The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. Our work sets a welcome table where all may consider our history and our future in a spirit of respect and reconciliation.

Tamale-maker Elizabeth Scott developed a taste for the spiciness of tamales in 1940, when she enjoyed them before watching a movie at her local theater in Greenville, Mississippi. When her husband passed along a recipe he got from a Mexican man in the service, Scott went through many trials and errors until she perfected it and opened Scott's Tamales stand in Mississippi. 

The small stall still stands today. Six of her children and grandchildren are still rolling tamales with the classic family recipe. While people in the community make different varieties of tamales for Elizabeth and her family to taste -- including bologna, fish, and deer -- they say there's nothing like the TLC in their recipe. Tamale-making is not easy work, they warn, so "if you're not going to do it right, don't do it at all." 

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