Holiday Cheer to my Rear (Feliz Navidad)

New Years’ Resolution: Post more updates on Star Spangled Girl.

The holidays are about two things: food & family.

My family is moderately insane–in the best way possible?–so I’m going to call a majority of the most interesting stories of the holiday season off-limits. What a violation of the spirit of truthful, open blogging, you exclaim! I commiserate. If nothing else, I believe in that one, true blogging philosophy and I truly wish I could post the gut-busting, tear-jerking, utterly scandalous details of my time back in LA. Unfortunately, not everyone feels as comfortable having their private lives publicized for all eternity on the big, bad Internet. While I don’t quite understand it, I respect it. Kinda.

As a result, you will get an overly detailed account of the traditional foods of my Germexitalian holidays. Yes, I know I just wrote a blog about food. Yes, I know this makes me sound like a total fatty. But when my future robot companion (see #3) is reading my blog to me, I want to be able to cherish the memories of being able to stuff my face with insanely high caloric foods. In the four months I was in DC, I gained 5 pounds; In the two weeks I’ve been home, I’ve gained 2.5 pounds. Call it water weight, call it what you will–thats Holiday Cheer to my Rear.

Part 1- Feliz Navidad

A couple videos to get you in the mood. Hint: It’s not a Mexican-American Christmas without the second one!!!


(If your life is sad and you don’t know what a tamale is, click here)

Every year in mid-December, my mother’s enormous family [enormous number of people, not enormous people] migrate from all over Los Angeles, San Bernadino and Orange Counties to East Los Angeles (technically Monterey Park, but it’s right next to East LA college so I argue its an accurate description) for a tamale-making extravaganza. Four generations line up at the counter, aprons in tow, ready to spread & stuff 300 tamales for Christmas eve. It’s a mix of assembly line and gossip circle, which normally isn’t much of a problem, but this year my grandpa decided we needed to take steps to preserve the process and wanted to video the entire event. At the corner of the kitchen, in the most cumbersome and awkward place possible, he put up his video camera on its tripod and hits record. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite make it clear enough to us that our every word was being immortalized via DVD. Almost immediately, in true Venti fashion, a rather racy conversation began as people began to trickle through the front door. Suddenly, we were hit with the stark realization that the little red light on the camera was illuminated–judging us, mocking us…knowing all.  Evidence of the questionable exchange needed to be quickly destroyed from existence. Wouldn’t you know it was grandpa’s last DVD? After a quick trip to the supermarket, we were back on track and on film. In the end we got most of the day on tape–and only about 46.27% would be problematic for the Motion Picture Association of America (They do movie ratings).

Our little tamale army make red (pork/beef mixture) and green (chile) tamales. Just like Italians with pasta sauce, most people (of Central or South American descent) believe that their grandma makes the best tamales. When I say that, though, I’ve got some legitimate back up. My family’s tamales are so badass they were even featured in the LA Times food section! In case you are wondering, we do make a couple sweet tamales but I find the idea of them to be absolutely disgusting, so let’s not even go there. Personally, I prefer the red tamales. This tends to work out for me because for some inexplicable reason more and more of my family members are becoming vegetarian and that means more meaty goodness for me.

Cheers, a toast to meaty goodness.

“I’ve got cousins galore. Mexicans just spread all their seeds. And the women just pop them out.”
~Jessica Alba 

Stay Tuned for Chapter 24.2: Holiday Cheer to my Rear (O Tannenbaum).