Some Tamale Festival…

East Los Angelinos sure love their tamales. The L.A. Tamale Festival is one of three (count ’em, three) festivals on the west coast celebrating the art of tamale making. With tamale cook-offs, classes and eating contests, the Tamale Festival promotes the continuation of the tamale legacy. And they aren’t kidding: its website promised contests for the best tamale, biggest tamale, a tamale-eating contest, tamale-making classes, and even a special newspaper made specifically for the event, The Tamale Times, of which 50,000 copies will be in circulation for your tamale-loving reading pleasure. In addition to all the tamale-related events, there would also be live musical performances, arts and crafts and a special zone for the kiddies. Over 40,000 tamale lovers showed up at last year’s festival, and a sizeable crowd was anticipated for this year as well.

I went there in high spirits with my good friend Laura. This was no tamale festival … more like a single tamale stand in the ghetto. We got our two tamales each and strolled over to have a seat by the MacArthur Park lake, where we enjoyed the sights of seagulls fighting over shards of glass, discarded plastic bags and cereal boxes while crackheads were making drug deals 50 feet away. We got back to the car two minutes past the meter and were greeted with a parking ticket on the windshield. Not exactly the fun times I had in mind. But the tamales were damn good…

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