Monday, April 14, 2008


Derby Tamales: a food you find on a low shelf at the grocery store. You bet that jar has been sitting there since 1982. There might be a layer of dust on the lid. That's okay. Wipe it off. I grew up eating Derby Tamales because my parents grew up eating Derby Tamales. It is like religion, but with tamales. Derby Tamales, yes, a food you would not eat for the first time in your adult years unless you were totally wasted; even then, you might pass in favor of that box of stale Peeps from Easter. Derby Tamale beef is -- hmm... -- okay don't take a close look at Derby Tamale beef. Don't poke through it with a fork. Close your eyes. Make a wish. What did you wish for? A delicious bad-for-you tamale? Wish granted. Wink.

Tamale digression: You haven't had the Chicago bar experience until you have bought $2 tamales from a Mexican dude hawking them out of a banged-up Igloo cooler at 1:00 a.m. These are real deal tamales, mi amigo, tamales cooked in corn husks tamales. Your brain screams DO NOT EAT FOOD EXTRACTED FROM A DIRTY COOLER, but screw it. You are bombed and this bar does not sell food. That is why the bar allows Tamale Guy to peddle his gourmet treat. Tamale Guy lets the good times roll, selling this two buck fantasy: eat my tamale and you will not wake up with a hangover wishing you were dead. This tamale was made with care by Tamale Guy's mom who has been making anti-hangover tamales in the basement for 92 years and she knows what's what. Oh man, this chicken tamale is made with dark meat blehhh. Wait, is this even chicken? Is that dirt? Was this tamale dropped on the floor? Who cares. It is deliciouso! Nom nom nom all done. You are with a friend who has never had a tamale before and he is trying to eat the corn husk. Fool.

Derby Tamales are less authentic than Igloo cooler tamales. One: no corn husk. Two: they are made in Omaha, Nebraska which, last I checked, is not Mexico. Three: the radioactive orange glop is only one third of the magic in the sauce. The other third is grease. The final third is also grease, but it is grease infused with love. Buy a jar of Derby Tamales at your local grocer. You won't regret it. Unless you're a Pollyanna prone to the runs.

HEATING INSTRUCTIONS: Slam your Jose Feliciano cassette in the ghettoblaster. Pop a can of Tecate. Simmer tamales on low in a sauce pan until they are smooshy. If the tamale is chewy, you have forgotten to take off the paper wrapper (How much Tecate did you drink?). Smack yourself on the forehead. Have a laugh. Eat. Enjoy.