My cumple is at the end of the month, but Carlos wanted to give me his gift un poco temprano.

This is Carlos’s first and only tattoo… y lo amo!

Suegra still doesn’t know about it. When she finds out, she will probably threaten to disown him, (otra vez.) She believes tattoos are a pecado and that only “mala gente” like pandilleros get them. When Carlos told me this I said, “Wait, doesn’t your older brother have tattoos?”

“Yeah,” Carlos said, “but when my mother found out, she slapped him.”

So Carlos’s birthday present to me? A permanent reminder of his love, and the promise of mucho drama to blog about in the coming days.

(Thanks, nene!)

Feliz día de San Valentín to YOU

Today’s post is for YOU, sí tú! … To those of you who visit me loyally each day, and to those who visit once in awhile. To those who comment and those who are too timidos – Gringo, Latino or otherwise – I love you all.

Thank you for understanding me and Latinaish.com – for contributing your thoughts and positive energy. You help make this blog a place full of amistad y corazón.

Ricky Martin says, “Lo mejor de mi vida eres tú.” – I say to you, “Lo mejor de mi blog eres tú.”

Feliz día de San Valentín, amigos.


To mis amigos escondidos: It’s National De-Lurking week. This week bloggers ask those who read their blog but don’t comment, to come out of hiding.

Comments are one of mis cosas favoritas. So, if you read my blog but have never left a comment, I am formally inviting you to leave one today, (though of course, no invitation is needed.) You don’t have to give me your name or even say much at all, or you can introduce yourself and tell me your life story. Tell me why you visit Latinaish.com, how you found me, what you’d like to see more of, what language(s) you speak, where you’re writing me from – or anything you want!

I would love to hear from you and be able to personally say “hola”, so don’t be shy!

Live Blogging: Tamalada

Last night I went out and bought all the things I need to make tamales. Carlos has gone to work, and the niños to school. The house is quiet and empty, unlike a traditional tamalada.

I mentioned in my last post, Galletada, how I don’t have family to make tamales with. Some of you recommended inviting friends, regardless of whether they’re Latina or not. I think that idea is bien chévere. The only problem? My friends are spread across the world.

So, here is what I’m going to do – I’m going to “live blog” my tamal making with you! You’re all invited to my tamalada. Visit throughout the day as I update. Chat with me here in comments, or over on Twitter!

8:20 am – I boiled the chicken last night so it would be ready. I’m going to go shred that first.

9:35 am – The chicken is nicely shredded. Unlike Suegra, I didn’t include bones in my mixture. Chomping into a hueso while trying to eat a tamal, I find very disconcerting.

What do you think of my apron? Do I look like I’m ready to make tamales or sell them at the mercado? ;)

10:36 am – The filling mixture is almost finished. I’m tasting it with Hoja Santa to see if I like it. I heard that Hoja Santa is used for tamales in regions of México and that it gives a distinct flavor. It smells like root beer or licorice. Qué rico! …

While researching the herb, I found out some interesting things. First, the FDA isn’t a fan of Hoja Santa because it was found to be carcinogenic in animals. Carlos thinks I’m loca for trying it just based on that, but cigarettes are carcinogenic to HUMANS and yet the FDA doesn’t have a problem with them, so I put my faith in the Mexican people on this one. They’ve been using this herb since the times of the Mayans and Aztecs, and they have less incidence of cancer than those of us in the U.S.

The story behind its name – Hoja Santa, (Holy Leaf), is that the Virgin Mary used to dry the diapers of baby Jesus on the wide leaves of the Hoja Santa plant. (Providing a place for them to dry, as well as leaving a nice scent.) … Qué cute, right?

Okay – going to upload a video for those who are asking!

12:36 pm – Getting tired and I haven’t even assembled the things! … I finished the filling quite awhile ago, (video below!), and just now I finished making the masa. This is the first year I used manteca (lard) in the masa. The idea gave me the heebie jeebies but I tried tamales last year which I liked, which had algocito that my tamales didn’t have – and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Well, it was manteca, of course. I had Carlos call his co-worker, Armando, last night – to ask what his wife put in her tamales. Te juro, I tasted queso in the masa, but they insist that it’s just manteca.

So, anyway, I made the masa with manteca and the smell made me a little queasy. The masa is resting and so am I for a few minutes, but I really need to get a move on. The day is half over!

Here is the video of me making the filling earlier:

2:26 pm – All the tamales have been made and are on the stove. Very tired and ate so much of the filling que no tengo ganas de comer tamales. Bleh. Ojalá, Carlos and the boys will like them.

I’ve posted my recipe in comments before, but I will post my recipe here according to how I made them this year.

Latina-ish Tamales Recipe

What you need:

Dry corn husks
Aluminum foil
MASECA (instant corn masa flour for tortillas)
1 whole chicken – boiled, (remove skin and bones and shred into small pieces)
Chicken broth – (use the broth from the chicken you cooked. Seems to be more flavorful than canned/boxed broth.)
1 can chick peas/garbanzo beans
1 medium onion (minced if you have the patience, otherwise, chopped is okay)
3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 cans of uncut green beans
2 cans of diced potatoes
1 can of chiles in adobo sauce
achiote molido (annatto powder)
achiote entero (whole annatto)
hoja santa
1 cup of lard
1/2 cup cooking oil
cooking oil

1. The filling: In a large pan, heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of achiote entero. Cook briefly until oil turns orange-red. Remove from heat. Remove the achiote with a spoon and discard so that all that is left in the pan is the oil. If you don’t have achiote entero, just heat some regular oil.

2. Put the pan back on the medium heat, saute onion and garlic until tender. Remove from heat. Add the drained cans of potatoes, chick peas and green beans as well as the chicken. Combine. Add salt, adobo sauce from the can of “chiles en adobo”, and hoja santa to taste.

3. For the masa, I used this recipe. Only changes – I added a tablespoon of achiote molido along with the salt to the dry MASECA. Then, after completing the recipe, I added a 1/2 cup of cooking oil.

4. Fill a big bowl with hot water in your sink. Submerge the corn husks in the water to soften.

5. Rip off 40 squares of aluminum foil, (about 1 foot by 1 foot each.) … This will be used to secure the tamales while cooking if you have trouble folding them securely closed. (Some people tie them closed. Look up methods online, but I’m telling you, foil makes it way easier.)

6. If you don’t have a large steamer pot, you will need to loosely crumple foil balls enough to cover the bottom of your largest pot with a tight fitting lid, (or an upside down metal pie plate works.) Once the bottom of the pot is covered in foil balls, fill it with water – BUT the water should not be higher than the foil balls. The foil balls keep the water off the tamales since the tamales are not boiled – they are steamed. If you have a steamer pot and know how to use it, all the better!

7. Now for assembly. Take a corn husk from the water, making sure it isn’t too small or ripped, and shake it dry a bit. Put it on a square of foil. Spread a big spoonful of masa (dough), onto the husk in the middle, spreading it out in a sort of rectangle shape, but don’t go too close to the edges. (There are tamal tutorials online, so look around for them. Video would be the best way to learn this.)

On top of the masa, place a spoonful of the chicken mixture.

Now fold the corn husk closed, (again, hard to explain, so look online for a tutorial if you don’t know how.) … Then I take the extra step of enclosing each one in foil so they don’t open up.

Repeat this until you run out of either corn husks, masa, mixture, or energy — This made about 40 tamales when I ran out of masa, but I had enough filling mixture for at least 2 dozen more.

Stack them all in your steamer pot on medium to low heat with the lid closed. They take between one and two hours to cook. Check once in awhile, (though not too often as you’ll lose your steam), to make sure there’s enough water in there – if not, add a little.

To be sure the tamal is done – best to take one out, unwrap the foil, and let it cool for a little bit to give the masa a chance to become the right texture. Then you can unwrap the corn husk and check to see if the masa is properly cooked, (it shouldn’t be too mushy – it should be firm…difficult to explain exactly. I know you’ve eaten tamales so just judge the doneness based on personal experience of what it should look/feel/taste like when cooked.)

5:46 pm – Tamales were taken out of the pots over an hour ago and have cooled. Carlos loves how they turned out. Now for a nap. Thanks to all of you who chatted with me here in comments and on Twitter! This one is for you…

Field trip to the Archives

Since some of you are new amigos, it occurred to me that you may have missed some of the fun we had before you arrived here. Instead of digging through the archives yourselves, I’ve chosen the blog posts I think you’ll like most. Chécalos!

Where Do Latinos Come From, and other Google Questions

Spanish Pig Latin: Idioma Efe


Speedy Gonzales


Latino Job Hunting Perils


Remind me not to fall into a coma in any small villages south of the border

Sex on the Floor

Ask Señora López: Parental Involvement

The first question has been answered. (How to encourage parental involvement at school when there are linguistic and cultural barriers.) Come visit my new column “Ask Señora López”, over at Sofrito For Your Soul – (Thanks, George!)

And as always, if you have a question, ask me! Your question can be serious or silly, about Latinos or gringos, in English or español, and you can remain anonymous. Te espero!

La Copa Mundial

I am so tired. I’ve been waking up at 7 am almost every morning to catch the first game of the day. Then I spend an inordinate amount of time on Twitter watching the games with my friends, which is so much more fun than watching alone.

If you want to watch with me, come on over! (A small warning though, I got overly passionate during Mexico’s game and let loose a few dozen “Viva México Cabrones!” … This is not the Spanish I intend to teach my kids. My apologies to those with delicate ears.)

Yesterday, Mexico’s historic win against France had me feeling breathlessly excited for a country I have absolutely no roots in, (“I wish I was born Mexican, but it’s too late for that now.” – Morrissey), and today, I am proud of how the U.S. played against Slovenia, yet simultaneously pissed that their third goal was taken away, leaving it a 2-2 tie, instead of a win.

Whatever the outcome, I’m exhausted and my productivity is laughable. Somehow I’ve managed to keep up with the 2 articles per week deadline over at Copa Café. I will keep links to those posts here for those who want to go read them.

*All Paths Lead to Fútbol

*A Sweet Game

*U.S. Latinos: Never Offsides When It Comes To Team Loyalty

*On this day, we are all Mexicans

*Better Late Than Never

* Fútbol Fortunetellers

* Cheaters Never Win (Except in Fútbol)

* Best Commercials of the World Cup