Tamales 372x451 - TSTC Culinary Arts program talks tamales

The Culinary Arts program at Texas State Technical College’s Harlingen campus educates students about various recipes from all over the world. One of those recipes is for tamales.

Veronica Munguia, a TSTC Culinary Arts instructor, said various regions prepare them differently.

“We use cornhusks, fill and fold over the masa for the ones we are most familiar with,” she said. “Some examples are the Oaxacan tamales, which are wrapped in banana leaves adding a unique flavor. In Michoacán, there is a sweet tamale called the Canarian. It is prepared with rice flour and other ingredients that are mixed together then wrapped in corn husks and cooked.”

The tamale, which originated from Mesoamerica, dates back to ancient civilizations as early as 8000 BC.

It is traditional for family and friends to come together during the holidays and help prepare them. The process is lengthy, but well-deserved.

Tamales are made of masa, a ground corn moistened with water and wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves. Traditionally, they are filled with pork, beef, chicken and beans. Modern recipes now include beef brisket, black bean and cheese, seafood, habanero pork, and countless others.

And, there is a special day just for the tamale. March 23 is National Tamale Day.

As new chefs make their footprint, only time will tell how their tamales will revolutionize and honor tradition.

The yearly median salary in Texas for chefs and head cooks is over $56,000, with more than 7,700 chefs needed by 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website.

TSTC’s Culinary Arts program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and several certificates of completion at the Harlingen, East Williamson County, and Waco campuses.

Registration for the spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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