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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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The Migrant Kitchen 1-Hour Special

Los Angeles’ booming food scene is being shaped by a new generation of chefs. Visit almost any kitchen in Los Angeles and it is likely you will find a migrant chef combining ethnic cuisines with new flavors and techniques. And often within the food, is a story of their migration.

“The politics of migration, the labor economy, all that drama plays out in the restaurants that we go to,” says journalist and author Rubén Martínez

Alta California

A collective of culturally connected, distinguished chefs (including Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, Wes Avila of Guerilla Tacos, Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, as well as Jorge Gaviria of corn purveyor, Masienda) work to preserve heritage and push forward the “Alta California” Mexican food movement. By celebrating those dishes and ingredients integral to Mexico's cuisine and its economy, a group of accomplished Mexican-American chefs are working to elevate not only the food, but what people of their heritage can achieve in the food business.

'Vietnamese'

Banh Mi. Spring rolls. Pho. The war and its subsequent refugees. These are things most commonly associated with the Vietnamese culture and its people. But a group of chefs in Los Angeles (including Cassia's Bryant Ng, Diep Tran of Good Girl Dinette, and Minh Phan of Porridge & Puffs) are hoping to demonstrate that there's so much more than that. Featured in the episode: Cassia in Santa Monica, Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park, Red Boat Fish Sauce.