How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Tamales mania in El Sereno

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Tamal vendors in action at the L.A. Tamale Throwdown, November 12, 2010

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Tamal vendors in action at the L.A. Tamale Throwdown, November 12, 2010

Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Tamal vendors in action at the L.A. Tamale Throwdown, November 12, 2010


Tamales! What can be better this time of year? I ventured over to the L.A. Tamale Throwdown in El Sereno after it kicked off this afternoon to take a few photos and, well, eat tamales.

Like most other people who make tamales for the holidays, I make them once a year - just once, because it's hard work - and am usually sick of them by the day after Christmas. But it's been almost a year, as I'm sure it has for many tamalistas, so now is the time to start indulging again.

The event itself was a hoot: vendor stands selling tamales, aguas frescas, pupusas and other staples, great music, artesanias, and a trophy-laden table of lucky judges onstage, eating steaming plates submitted by the city's tamal purveyors. (Don't know what the grand prize is, but I'll bet it's not a year's supply of masa.) Best thing is that it runs through 10 p.m. Saturday.

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