Thursday, January 24

Mississippi Delta Tamales Are Red Hot



Surely all of you are, by now, well acquainted with our Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail. Established in 2005, the Tamale Trail is home to about 25 oral history interviews with Delta tamale makers and an interactive map that plots the locations of dozens more. It's the project that inspired our other culinary trail projects (check out our BBQ, Boudin, and Gumbo Trails), and it was also the catalyst for the first culinary marker in the state of Mississippi.

It should be no surprise, then, that people still can't get enough of Delta hot tamales. Just this month, two national magazines sing the praises of these particular bundles of meat and masa.

In the February 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure magazine, Shane Mitchell's piece "Southern Revival" celebrates the small-town culture of the Mississippi Delta. Many SFA oral history subjects are mentioned, as well as our hometown of Oxford, and Delta tamales definitely get their due:
An old-timey lunch spot, Crystal Grill specializes in such staples as fried chicken livers with stewed lima beans and candied yams. But the days when Southern food could be easily categorized by a greasy prefix are done and gone. Successive waves of immigrant workers have introduced Sicilian “pasta gravy,” Lebanese kibbeh, Vietnamese pho, and Mexican tamales to the region. Greenwood alone has seven listings on the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail.
The new February/March 2013 issue of Garden & Gun just hit newsstands and includes a long piece on Delta tamales by author, Delta-native, and friend of the SFA Julia Reed. In "A Delta Original: How the Humble Tamale Came to Represent A Region and Its People," Reed references the Tamale Trail throughout and spreads the good word about the first-annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival, which was held in Greenville in October (the 2013 festival is scheduled for October 19).

March 17-20, the 2013 Delta Cultural Tour, an annual event organized by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, will share the tamale love, as well. Amy Evans, SFA oral historian and chief architect of the Tamale Trail, is a featured presenter and will speak to the group about all things Delta and tamale.

The short documentary film featured above is a profile of Elizabeth Scott of Scott's Hot Tamales in Greenville, one of the stops on our Tamale Trail. Mrs. Scott was the 2007 recipient of our Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award.

Visit the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale trail for more. Better yet, come to Mississippi! Your first dozen tamales is on us.