Menudo & Tamales: Wintertime’s Most Legendary Mexican Dishes
The weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. These are the first signs of the approaching winter season. Before long, we’ll all be wearing cozy sweaters, sipping warm coffee by the fireplace, and sleeping in within thick blankets. Wintertime in Hispanic cities such as El Paso also brings about the delectable aromas of special holiday dishes. We’re not talking about stuffed turkey here. We’re talking about two of the most iconic and delicious Mexican dishes of all time: menudo and tamales. Today, Productos Real would like to take a deep dive into these two mouthwatering dishes, their seemingly never-ending resilience, and the important role they play in Hispanic society.
To the outsider, menudo may seem unappetizing mostly due to the fact that one of the main ingredients is tripe (which comes from pork’s stomach lining) but it is as iconic as it is delicious. Menudo is, first and foremost, a traditional soup primarily containing tripe, garlic, onion, hominy, and onion. While menudo may seem similar to its close cousin, Pozole, the former is often reserved for special occasions, including Christmas and post-wedding celebrations. In fact, this dish has been a mainstay in Mexican celebrations since the 1930s!
Menudo takes an average of 7 to 10 hours to cook properly, which shows why it’s often reserved for those special moments. Whether the family matriarch stays up all night checking on the stew or the menudo is simply purchased from a local restaurant, the flavor is delectable, memorable, and hearty. You can taste the love in every bite.
Menudo is the perfect definition of a “special occasion” dish. There’s just something magical that happens when all those hearty flavors come together, especially with some freshly squeezed lime juice and ground oregano. There aren’t many dishes that compare to menudo’s flavor. From the first spoonful to the final moments of soaking up the last remaining drops with a piece of buttered Pan de Blanco, eating menudo is an entire experience. This is especially if the dish is shared with friends and loved ones on Christmas morning!
Tamales, much like menudo, are instantly recognizable winter dishes for Hispanics and Mexican food aficionados alike. The origin of tamales dates back to the early 8,000 B.C.E. Mesoamerica. The flavor of this delicious dish remains strong to this day and it has permeated history, surviving for thousands of years until today!
Tamales are truly unique and, as such, difficult to categorize and define. Simply put, tamales are a mixture of masa (corn dough) and a filling (usually pork or chicken) wrapped in a corn husk. They are then steamed in order for the masa to become firm. While tamales aren’t as hearty as menudo individually, one can easily eat six tamales without even realizing it. They are warm, flavorful envelopes of flavor that connect us to the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica.
Although tamales may seem easier to make than menudo (there’s no seven-hour wait time for tamales), they’re often saved for special occasions, such as the Holiday season. There’s something special about the warmth that permeates through the body when you bite into a fresh, steaming pile of tamales. There are green and red tamales with different fillings to appease every palate. In fact, there are even vegetarian tamales with green chile and cheese for those who don’t consume meat products! Perhaps menudo isn’t your thing but there is a high probability you’d enjoy a tamal! Eating tamales on Christmas morning is another great tradition among Mexican and Hispanic families. If you’ve never partaken in this, you can easily find tamales for sale in El Paso. Or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, you can try making them at home!
Keep the Tradition Alive with Productos Real!
Productos Real proudly carries the ingredients you need to make your very own tamales and menudo at home. Or, if you run a Mexican restaurant, we can also supply you with the freshest, most high-quality ingredients to bring joy to your guests and their stomachs! This Christmas, when you’re sitting around the table with your friends and family and that steaming bowl of menudo is wafting those delectable aromas throughout the kitchen you can think of the grand history and tradition of these legendary Mexican dishes.