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how do you eat a tamale?

Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, but I'm not very familiar with this mushy dish wrapped in corn husks, and I have never seen someone eat one. Are you supposed to peel back the husk as you bite off pieces of the interior? Eat it with a fork and knife? Spoon? Are they generally eaten as a snack or as a main dish? If someone could enlighten me please!

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  1. Open it up/peel it open. Eat by hand, fork, fork & spoon, or spoon. Snack, breakfast, main... whatever!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Exactly. I normally use a fork because it's cleaner, but you can eat with your hands. You can also complement it with a little salsa.

      And on special occasions (esp weddings) in my family, one or two are served along with the "main" course (mole or whatever).

      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Sam, doesn't it depend on what type of tamal (such as Guatamalan or Salvadorian) the person is eating. I have had 'wet' tamales that you couldn't possibly eat with your hands/fingers. Gotta say that those were some of my favorites. Also, OP, not all tamales are 'mushy' some have a firmer masa than others.

        1. re: justagthing

          Just thinking the same: our Colombian tamales are greasy, wrapped in banana leaf. We have to gingerly unwrap them, get rid of the heap of glistening leaves, and eat with knife and fork.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Hmm...I've never had a Colombian one, sounds interesting. Then again, there is always the Chinese version, dzong (sp?) My fav.

      2. I peel back or take off the husk and eat the tamal spoon some salsa on top and eat with a fork.....if the tamales are really tasty or already spicy i might skip the salsa (some do not make it too spicy because of the kids) I never had a mushy tamale but some have thicker masa on it than others.
        Christmas its the main dish...other times if you are lucky to get them as renz said to get some they are a treat to enjoy with the other food.
        Next morning they are great with eggs...mmmmm
        They can be enjoyed anytime as a snack, main dish, or accompany other food.
        Christmas is when "everyone" makes them but some make them year around to sell or other special occasion or just because.

        1. I'm not going to say where I get them, but we have a parking lot tamale lady who makes tamales that are so good that I always eat one in the car on the way home. Peel back the corn and eat from the top, a bit like a burrito.

          The ones at home get extra salsa and the fork treatment.

          1. Eat them however it makes the most sense to you. I don't know what kind of tamales you have, why they are mushy, or how mushy they are. If they are too mushy to eat with your hands, then use a utensil. If a fork is closer than a spoon, then use a fork. If they are so mushy that the parts sip through the tines of a fork, then use a spoon. If they are to hard to cut with a fork or a spoon, then use a knife.

            How I eat tamales:
            Once they are warm, I open the husk, and eat them with either a fork, or my hands.
            sometimes, I'll put salsa and/or s. cream / guacamole on them.
            I love them chopped up, and cooked in scrambled eggs for breakfast.
            There is no "correct way" to eat tamales. There is no Martha Stewart rule of etiquette (and even if there was, does that mean you would HAVE to follow it???)
            Snack, main dish, fork, spoon, knife?

            The answer is: yes.

            1. I really like a tamale with white rice and chili. I either mix everything up into a mash, or keep the tamale separate and alternate bites, but something about it makes me happy. Adjust the heat level and I'm off.

              Then again, I can pretty much eat anything with rice.

              1. If you're eating a sweet tamale, eat it with cup of champurrado, hot Mexican chocolate, or a cup of coffee. Mexican red or green tamale eat with whatever beverage you like. I like Mex. tamales with lots of "masa", dough, so eating by hand doesn't do the trick since you will need to scrape off the tasty morsels of masa left on the husk. No one will look at you funny if you eat with your hands or a fork! But don't eat the husk. :-)

                1. Day old tamale: eat by taking the husk off, fry it in a little oil and top with a fried egg. Do the same with enchiladas. It is all good.