If you’re a food-lover looking for a destination book filled with tales of intrigue and eccentricity – pick up Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes by Anne Martin.
The Delta Tamale Mystery
The foods we eat can tell us more about the culture and history of a region than the people themselves. Often the mystery behind how certain foods became part of the culture of a region is lost to time, but the food remains as a signpost pointing to the shared history of all people.
In Delta Hot Tamales, Martin has explored one of those mysteries of the Southern U.S. The existence of a distinct strain of hot tamales born deep in the Mississippi Delta is undeniable, but good luck deciding how and why it’s there.
The existence of a distinct strain of hot tamales born deep in the Mississippi Delta is undeniable, but good luck deciding how and why it’s there.
The answers range from the obvious theory that Mexican immigrants brought it with them to the intriguing idea that the Delta tamale is actually a version of the old African American food “cush.”
More Than a Cookbook
Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes is not a traditional cookbook by any means. The book uses local food as a lens to explore the rich culture and history of an often misunderstood area in an often misunderstood state.
About the Author: Anne Martin
Anne Martin is uniquely qualified to tell us the tale of the Delta hot tamale. Martin was a broadcast journalist for over 30 years, spending large portions of that time in Greenville, Mississippi, the epicenter of the Delta tamale phenomenon.
Martin is also one of the founders of the Delta Hot Tamale Festival an event held in Greenville each fall that has garnered significant following in culinary and cultural circles alike.
“It doesn’t matter where you go in the Delta, or how people are dressed, you will find hot tamales on top of Saltine crackers,” said Martin.
It’s true that even the most well-heeled parties in the Delta often include this lowly fare. It can also be found on the menu at Doe’s Eat Place, the iconic steak restaurant in Greenville where they wrap theirs in parchment paper instead of the traditional corn husk.
Martin’s love of the Delta and its eccentricities is obvious in Delta Hot Tamales as she tells us the tale of the lowly tamale through stories and history.
She eloquently shares the Delta – and its food because, she says, “People love the culture of the Delta, and whenever they come here, they want to take part of that back with them, whether it’s across the state or across the country.”
In this book, Anne Martin has given us another look at the Delta through its culinary history – a book that is reminiscent of John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance, in its thoroughness and perspective.
What’s the Difference?
By the way, the difference between a Delta hot tamale and a traditional tamale is in how it’s cooked. The traditional tamale is steamed, while its Mississippi cousin is simmered in water.
Now you know.
>> Know more – and gain a new perspective on the Mississippi Delta and the makings and mystery of the Delta hot tamale. Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes by Anne Martin is available at Turn Row Book Co. in Greenwood and other bookstores.