A delicious delicacy from my country that I am dying to introduce to you.
You can a dish called “Tamale” (rhymes with “Bali”) in almost all countries in Latin America. But it is more traditional in the area of Mesoamerica, that is Mexico to Costa Rica. However, each country has its own speciality and they are all different in their own way.
Over all, it is masa made from maize, filled with mysterious ingredients and wrapped and steamed in a special leaf.
If you have been in a Chinese-speaking country, like Taiwan, you can think about it as a ZongZi (粽子) or Rice Dumplings. You know! the one eaten mostly for the dragon boat festival. If you are not so sure about this festival, maybe you want to check out my post about the Dragon Boat in Tainan.
Zongzi to the left, Tamale to the right
The main difference between the Zongzi and Tamale, besides the obvious shape is that the ZongZi is made from rice and not masa.
Masa Made from Maize
Masa is the Spanish word for dough, but if I straightly write “dough”, you might think that Tamales are made of wheat flour. The dough for tamales is made from corn, but not the yellow corn, it is made from the white one. We usually use the word “corn” to refer to the yellow one and the “maize” to the white one.
This was a simple explanation, but let me give you some interesting details. The flour made form the white corn is called “Nixtamal”. This word is in “Nahuatl”, a local language, and it is formed from the words Nextli, meaning “ashes” and Tamalli which means “uncooked corn dough”.
I say “mysterious”, because it depends on the ingredients to determine the kind of tamale.
The traditional Guatemala Tamale only has recado (thick tomato sauce) with chicken or pork meat….. maybe olives, but actually adding any other ingredient would stop it from being really traditional. However, in other countries they do add other vegetables and they are also delicious.
You can eat a tamale at anytime, but on Saturday evenings tamale-selling-places get a red lantern out to indicate they have tamales for sale. Another traditional time to have this delicious food is for Christmas. However, because of the amount of time it takes to make them, we do not usually make them at home, which means that at the beginning of December we go crazy making our tamales order with the person who, to our opinion, makes the tastier tamales of all. Tamales make the perfect combination for our traditional Christmas day. And this year will be the first time in 9 years, that I will have tamales for Christmas again, I am so excited for this.
The Special Leaf
The mixed dough and the ingredients are wrapped in banana leaf and steamed until ready. But do not worry, you do not have to eat the leaf, this would be hard to do, and I guess not very tasty. However, tamales are traditionally presented still with their leaf, and it has to be nicely tucked in.
In Guatemala there is a large variety of tamales, the difference mostly depends on the ingredients and size.
Tamales blancos (White tamales): Made only with the dough and wrapped in corn leaf.
Tamalitos de Chipilin (Small tamales of Chipilin): Also wrapped in corn leaf, but the dough is mixed with chipilin. This is a leaf that grows mostly in Guatemala and Honduras. These are one of my favorite types of tamales and I love to eat them with with cheese.
Tamalitos de Elote (corn tamales): The dough of these ones is made from the yellow corn, and they are a little sweet.
Chuchitos (no translation): They have a bell shape and they are made only with the dough and thick tomato sauce. I love to have these as an afternoon snack.
Tamal Negro (Black Tamale): They are sweet. Some sugar is added to the dough and instead of vegetables, purnes and raisins are used. But even though they are sweet, they are still made with chicken.
Paches (no translation): These are the sames as tamales, but instead of the corn dough, potatoe is used.
Wow… writing so much about tamales made me hungry, but thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my article.
This is the place I took from El Salvador to Guatemala, it was the last necessary plane to get home after 8 years of living in Taiwan. Yes! I have come back a few times, but this time was the last time, and that is why it is so meaningful.
A trip so long as the one made from Taiwan to Guatemala has to be honoured with a nice picture.
For this I give blue skies and a flat landscape!!!
It’s time for a change, there’s no excuse,
this new life has for long my heart seduce.
Eagerness and excitement are on the loose,
yet my eyes are watery at the memory of last views
All these emotions I call them flight hues!
Thank you for reading!
All comments either on the photography or on the poems are welcome !!!
Let me just say that with the word “warmth”, I am referring not only to the weather, which is just perfectly warm and not unbearably hot, but also to the people, who made me feel like at home.
From March 14th to the 25th of this year, 2017, I enjoyed this beautiful island and some of the things it has to offer.
The plane landed a little before midnight, and the people working in the airport must have been tired from a long day, yet they were smiling and welcoming. Have you seen those country advertisements where all the people looks friendly and amiable? well… I felt like I was in one of those advertisements. And I knew my stay there would be amazing.
This is my first morning in Santo Domingo
I was on a business trip, there was an expo and I had some clients to visit, so I could not go sightseeing too much, but what I saw was awesome.
An economy on the rise
Dominican Republic economy is rising and people is willing to invest on new technologies and innovative products. Being so close to the US they have inherit some of their way of making business.
All the people who I had meetings with were very friendly and easy to deal with, hard-working but not stressed, punctual and professional, but flexible, and over all smiling.
So, if you are reading this from a business point of view, then I recommend you to try Dominican Republic.
A place of history
Dominican Republic, and specifically Santo Domingo is home to a few of the “firsts” in America, for instance, the first Cathedral and the first military base. And they are taking good care of their historical places. The Cathedral even has aircon, and even if you are not a Catholic to make a prayer, it is inviting to sit for a moment and enjoy its beauty.
First Military Base, Ozama Fort
It is a beautiful area full of shops, cafes and souvenirs. Walking in this area is a must if you visit Santo Domingo.
This was my favourite Cafe, Affogato Cafe.
Revolution and Patriotism
All Dominicans love their country, they are not only welcoming but very knowledgable of their history. And they are eager to share it with you. I know I might have missed visiting some places but the ones that I did were stunning.
These are some of the monuments remembering their independence and battles.
This is the independence park in Santo Domingo
And this is the monument in Santiago. Santiago is the second largest city in Dom. Rep. It is smaller, but also beautiful. On top of this monument you can get a view of the city. Breath taking.
Yes, it has magnificent beaches, white sand and crystal waters. And yes, people love to dance. Everywhere there is music, salsa, merengue, reggae, and the newest trend “dembow”.
But, if dancing is not for you, there is also the night restaurants and bars in the colonial area. They have live music, delicious food and great drinks. My favorite of these all was the “Pat’e Palo”. Which translated to English is “Wooden leg”, which as you can imagine refers to the pirates. How magical can this place be?
The only down side of Santo Domingo is the traffic, but they have Uber, which makes everything easier. And they even have Uber on Motorcycle.!!!!
You gotta try it. You won’t regret it
Thank you for reading!
Now go ahead and subscribe!
Now, just for you, a Sushi Flower, from a sushi place in Agora Mall in Santo Domingo!
I’m here just for transit and the first thing I see as get off the plane is this:
Everything cancelled. Luckly I had a hotel booked for the night and my next flight was originally on for today, March 14 morning, but it was automatically reschedule for tonight. All I have to do now is wait.
It is 11:46 am and I am sitting at the hotel lobby. I am watching the head-lines and reading some news and they are all like this:
I seams to me, that I am going to be here for a while, since the shuttle to the airport has also been cancelled.
So, when one of the strongest storms in the history in New York hits the east coast of the USA and your flight gets delayed for more than 12 hours, you gotta find things to do. But first let me give you some tips, even if you are an expert traveler, you might be forgetting one of these stuff that might just save you.
1.Check the weather before leaving.
Yes, as simple as this, checking the weather of your destination might help you prevent not having a place to stay while a big storm passes by. If you notice there are warnings and news about bad weather conditions in the place you are going book a hotel. By the time you get to the destination it might be too late and you will be stranded in the airport. And if the weather improved by the time you land the hotel might agree to give you a refund.
2. Pack a smart hand luggage
Pack the following on your hand baggage, even if the airline did not loose your luggage, it is a good idea to have this items at hand:
Extra clothes. Including underwear and a sweater, even if your destination is in the Caribbean, you don’t know if you will be greeted by a blizzard in the transit city.
Food, but not fruits. Fruits are usually not allowed to be carried, but a packages of cookies might save your life, specially if you arrive late at night, during a blizzard
Chargers. Is this necessary to explain? After a long flight, your devices are probably low on battery, and guess what, you are not going to be the only one looking for a socket.
Cash. It should be obvious, but it is amazing how some people forget that cash exist. Credit cards are useful, but you can not tip with cash, at least in most places. You don’t want new yorkers giving you even less friendly look.
3. Contact the airlines.
Tip no.1 and 2, were prevention tips, but if you followed No.1 then you will get internet at the hotel and from there you can contact the airline. If you the blizzard occurs in the USA, like it is happening to me, then know that airlines will not be in charge of any lose you had because of the delay, but they will automatically try to reschedule you in the next flight available. So before panicking, check your email and look for the airlines messages. I am now traveling with DELTA and but the time I arrived to New York, they had already fixed everything. All I had to do is the online check-in, as it is usual. #nosponsorship
4. Keep Informed
This is a very obvious piece of advise, but seriously, watching the news, constantly checking the airline’s webpage news and updates and talking to the people at the front desk has kept me warm and comfortable all these long cold hours.
I also recommend that before you leave your comfortable hotel check if the airport is even open. This blizzard was so strong that the JFK was closed and reopened until the afternoon. So as a safe recommendation, check with the airline if the flight has not been further postponed.
The following is the view from my window, I took in the morning around 10 am, but it is now 2:03pm.
Here are some other images of how NYC looked after this blizzard
Now, how to avoid boredom? Here is a list of things I have already done, I would really like you know what would be your suggestions.
Call you relatives and friends. This is the moment to catch up with friends, write them on Facebook, line or whatsapp. And why not call your mom? I know my mom is always ready to keep me company.
Books. Catch up with you long forgotten reading. I hope yo have the ePub, of your favorite book with you. For me, it is the Eragon saga all over again.
Games. Preferably if they are offline. For me? Pokemon Reborn, a fan made version. I need to thank my good friend Grexxen for this. Thank you.
Blogs. Yes! catch up with your blog or if you don’t have one, start one! it is great to be able to share your experiences with other people.
When you are done or fed up with all of the above, you can also sit at the hotel restaurant or lobby and pretend to do something important, but really you are just watching and analyzing other people. Perhaps inventing stories of the place they are from and where they are going to. Sometimes you try to ever hear their conversations and sometimes their voices and actions speak for themselves.
So here is what just happened at the hotel restaurant:
Before I start I would like to say that all the characters I mention here look and behave as if they are all from different countries and backgrounds. I was really interesting to see interacting with one another.
There was a man, to which I am going to refers as KIM., who was sitting with his computer at a table for 4. On the table next to him there is a woman with her baby sitting also at a table for 4. She is now sweetly and quietly singing her baby. I am going to call her ELLA. The baby has been still and well-behaved and ELLA has been sitting there for a while just minding her own business and entertaining her baby.
The elevator doors opened and a family of 4 non-English speakers comes out. I am simply going to refer to them as to “the GREENS”, mostly because they are wearing different tones of green. They were looking for a place to sit, then another guy, let’s call him MAX, who has no relationship to the GREENS whatsoever, sees the situation.
MAX tells the family not to worry and that he will get them a place to sit. He goes to KIM and politely but firmly asks him to please move to the table with ELLA. However, the man takes this as a total offense. He looks at ELLA and the baby as if they were from different worlds. Then KIM, grabs his things and reluctantly stands up. ELLA paid no attention to KIM’s looks but without showing any expression moves a couple of things away so that KIM has enough space for his computer.
KIM then walks with his things and stands next to the bar at the end of the restaurant. The GREENS see what happens but without saying “thanks”, neither to MAX or to KIM sit on the table. KIM stays on the bar for a few minutes and then walks away.
All I can say, is that this is many cultures shocking together in a very small space and short amount of time.
There is no conclusion here, it is just interesting to watch people’s actions and reactions.
Yes I am a little bit bored, but it will soon be time to go.
Finally!!! It is time for me to go to the airport. The wait is over and I need to take that flight.
I hope you are never trapped in a blizzard but if you are, hope this blog post helped a little.
Thank you for reading, here is an origami dragon for you.