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Thinking about making tamales? Here’s why many choose to buy them instead


HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Across Texas, cravings for tamales have reached a peak for the year.

A Christmas tradition for many Texans, tamales have long been a December staple. Google Trends indicates online searches for the beloved Mexican fare have been increasing every year across Texas—and the United States—since 2004.

And every year, searches have spiked in December.

The states with the most interest in the maiz-wrapped goodness include Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. In Texas, the Rio Grande Valley tops other regions for wintertime Google searches of “tamales.”

People are also searching for “tamales near me” and “how to cook tamales” — raising an important question. Is it really difficult to make tamales at home?

In the Rio Grande Valley and throughout the country, families have made traditions of making tamales from scratch.

Celia Galindo, a Brownsville native, and her family make tamales together, a tradition that has survived for 80-plus years. Galindo’s grandmother, who lived to be 104, made tamales every year up until her last Christmas, making 200 dozen annually.

Galindo said what started as a family tradition has now branched out to a community event. The group meets up on the second Sunday of November to make dozens of tamales to be stored throughout the holiday season. Preparation for the tamal-making process would start for Galindo’s grandmother in October when she collected ojas, plastic wrap, meat, and maiz.

Now, Galindo says she starts preparations three days before the process actually gets underway. The day before the assembly process, she and her family make the masa and on the day of the process, which begins at 6 a.m. and ends around 3 p.m.

The Galindo family makes traditional Norteño tamales with three raisins and pork meat.

Although time-consuming, some families like Galindo’s find that making tamales from scratch is a way to keep the tradition alive.

However, the process is intensive and proves to be too much of an ordeal for some.

While interest in cooking tamales at home hasn’t faded away, it might have been a little higher in past years. According to Google Trends from 2006 to 2015, people were more inclined to search “how to cook tamales” rather than “tamales near me.”

That’s not true now.

There was a shift in 2016 to the present day, and more people are searching for “tamales near me” at a much higher rate than “how to make tamales.” Whether this is attributed to people losing interest in making tamales themselves or people learning how to make them from word of mouth rather than the internet is a question that remains unanswered.


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