Now, before moving to Houston 10 years ago, I had never met a tamale ... period. However, in the process of becoming acquainted with this regional holiday tradition, I can now say I have never met tamale I didn’t like.
My first goal of 2019 is try all of Picos’s tamales, and while I have yet to get through the entire line-up, it’s looking likely my streak will continue.
Picos’s baker’s dozen worth of tamales are divided into two categories, norteños and oaxaqueños, based on the region of Mexico each respectively represents. The norteños are three-ounce tamales wrapped in corn husks (six for $9) and are available in the following flavors: black bean and cheese, pork in red chile, chicken in green chile, beef in red chile, chicken in black mole, and vegetarian with roasted poblano peppers and corn in tomato salsa, plus two additional sweet dessert varieties: raisin, and pineapple and coconut.
Their huskier (har) counterparts, the oaxaqueños, are six-ounce tamales (six for $18) stuffed with pork in red chile, chicken in green chile, chicken in black mole, shrimp with spicy tomato salsa, or portobello mushrooms and cuitlacoche. All of the aforementioned are literally encapsulated in banana leaves and metaphorically encapsulate the tastes characteristic of Southern Mexico.
Thus far in my tasting tour of Picos’s tamales I have relished the earthy autumnal heat of the beef in red chile, as well as the more piquant kick of the tender chicken in green chile norteños tamales. Both options I procured without wait at Picos’s stand and reheated easily at home thanks to helpful instructions included with my tamale parcel. Just before Christmas I plan to indulge my sweet tooth with some raisin tamales, then venture south to sample a few of the heartier oaxaqueños, before making good on (another) New Year's resolution—eat more plants—and trying the portobello and poblano pepper tamales.