By Adriana Basail
“The first time I tried a tamale I didn’t like it. Something was wrong. It was pure corn dough with very little filling. They had it backwards. The filling was the good part. Then, I tried a tamale made by Adrian Basail of Tamale Gourmet in the Olas Altas Farmers Market and I said, ‘Finally! A tamale with lots of filling and very little dough.” -Loyal customer.
I was living in San Pancho, Riviera Nayarit, when the 2009 recession hit. To earn extra money, I sold homemade muffins and pizzas.
I had never made nor watched someone prepare a tamale (the indigenous Náhuatl word for “wrap”), and honestly, had never been fond of them.
Traditional tamales are made from masa (corn dough), lard and skimpy portions of varied ingredients. Since I’m an advocate for healthy eating, I played with ingredients, including freshly milled masa, butter and olive oil. I used less dough, no lard and more filling. Within a few weeks, I had created my first anisette sweet tamale. I was in business!
I spend hours pairing the best ingredients–curry, lentils, carrots, plantain, raisins, coconut, peanuts, cilantro, spinach, pine nut, portobello, red roasted bell pepper, farmers cheese, black beans, zucchini, poblano, eggplant, basil, gouda and goat cheese, mahi-mahi, dill, capers, almonds, chocolate and cranberries. I even have vegan gourmet tamales!
Tamale Gourmet is available for catering small events, 24-300 tamales, by ordering five days in advance. Small orders can be picked up on Saturdays at the market (9:30-2) through April 29. Larger orders can be delivered. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 322-779-8037 or 322-224-1671. Adrian also sells at the Sunday market in La Cruz.
The Olas Altas Farmers’ Market offers 90 booths of “Handmade and Homegrown” products such as tamales, tacos, homemade ice cream, paella, pizza, baked goods, soaps, jewellery, nut butters and fermented foods. We’re open from 9:30 to 2:00 every Saturday from the first Saturday in November to the last Saturday in April in the Lazaro Cárdenas Park in Vallarta’s Emiliano Zapata neighbourhood. For only 14 pesos an hour, you can park in the garage directly beneath the park.