Sylvia Casares is Sharing Her Techniques at Sylvia’s With a Tamalada

I’m a big believer in cooking lessons and grab knowledge wherever I can… especially of Mexican regional cuisines.

Sylvia Casares

Most of my limited cooking expertise in Mexican regional cuisines has been gathered around Mexico in cooking classes and in the kitchens of Mexican chefs who were generous with their time and knowledge with me. I learned to prepare Huachinango a la Veracruzana in Veracruz. I was taught the simple art of making Aguachile, as well as many grilled seafood specialties in Mazatlán. I’ve been mentored on the preparation of richer, more complicated ceviches and cocktails in Acapulco. I’ve lurked in the kitchens and learned the importance of lard in the unique spiny lobster dishes typical of the Pacific coast of Baja California Norte, such as Puerto Nuevo-Style Lobster.

Tamales with a Perfect Chili Gravy

Yet, I had shied away from learning what I had considered the more mundane typical Mexican dishes, such as tamales and enchiladas, as I always seemed to gravitate toward what I considered to be the more difficult and exciting regional dishes. I no longer feel that way… nor, do I consider tamales to be something casually thrown together by almost any Mexican wife/mother on a moment’s notice. A couple of weeks ago, as part of Sylvia Casares’ Fall Cooking Classes, I was a student in her class on making tamales (Tamales 101). That class was in the form of Sylvia’s memories of her family’s  “Tamaladas”, with her dear recently departed mother at the helm… then a demonstration of making tamales as she was taught by her.

Sylvia demonstrating the choosing of corn husks.

A Tamalada is a family celebration.  It’s a family tradition. In Mexican families, especially at Christmas time, ALL generations of the family gather to make tamales in a party that is led by the matriarch… and enjoyed by as many as three-four generations, as they come together to pass on the traditions and recipes that have existed in Mexico since pre-Columbian times.

Sylvia mixing dry ingredients
For ME to try to teach you how to make tamales would be an insult to all Mexican women throughout North America (including Sylvia)… that’s why there are lessons by experts such as Sylvia “Enchilada Queen” Casares, (owner and executive chef of Sylvia’s, on Eldridge in western Memorial of Houston). Suffice it to say that Sylvia’s recipe is four pages long and it takes hours to prepare them properly. Yet, Sylvia imparted an ability to her students to follow her recipe, as well as imparting a deeper cultural awareness of what that Mexican dish and its preparation means to Mexican families generally… and to Mexico specifically!
Students get hands-on preparation.
Kim and Jason Bellini having fun

So, this isn’t going to have a recipe for making tamales. I am making you aware of the fact that Sylvia has been teaching cooking classes for 4-5 years and that I strongly recommend that for a deeper understanding of Mexico… Mexicans… and the foods… you might want to look into her schedule of cooking classes.

Those classes remaining in her 2014 fall schedule are below:

November 1 – Chiles Rellenos – Hands on class for beef, chicken and cheese chiles rellenos. This is a really fun class and you will learn to make fabulous rellenos. $65

November 15 – Tamales 101 – Learn the ancient art of tamale making in a fun hands on class! Class will be on pork and chicken tamales. $65

December 2 (Tuesday) – Tamales 101 – Learn the ancient art of tamale making with Sylvia! This is a hands-on class on pork, chicken tamales. $65

December 6 – Tamales 101 – Learn the ancient art of tamale making with Sylvia. This is a hands-on action packed class with recipes of pork and chicken tamales. $65

December 13 – Tamales 101 – Learn the ancient art of tamale making with Sylvia. Class instruction on pork and chicken tamales with hands on participation. $65

For more information, go to:
6401 Woodway Dr

HoustonTX 77057


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