Masa Harina close to Amherst, MA
My parents have retired in Amherst, and claim that we cannot make tamales at Christmas unless I bring masa from California. Is there a good shop in Western Mass where I might find such staples? Masa is heavy and I'd prefer not to lug it all the way out there.
The short answer (in my experience) is NO, there isn't any place I've found to buy actual masa harina prepared. You can buy Maseca brand masa in the supermarkets, to mix with water and make your own, which I do for corn tortillas; but I don't know if it works the same way for tamales. They might ask at Mi Tierra restaurant in Hadley (close to Amherst). Maybe somebody else has had better luck. Or you could do some fast working out to strengthen the arm muscles----
I went on researching this, because I was pretty sure your parents had a reason for wanting the real fresh stuff from California, and I found this by Rick Bayless of Frontera in Chicago:
I'm sure you already knew it, but the fresh masa for tamales really does produce a better result .I know it would be the same for tortillas, but it ain't gonna happen, at least for me, in Western MA.
It's heavy, and it's perishable, and it's hard to find, including on line; your lugging it is at least a sure thing!
BTW, probably thanks to Rick Bayless, the easiest place to find it after California is----- Chicago.