Tamales of the Mississippi Delta
A Delta-to-Texas transplant posted on the Austin boards in search of these Delta style 'hot tamales' and linked to this website that gives more info on them:
Sort of a syncretic blend between US-Southern and Northern Mexican culinary traditions, the delta tamal is described:
"Many hypothesize that tamales made their way to the Mississippi Delta in the early twentieth century when migrant laborers were brought in from Mexico to work the cotton harvest. The African Americans who shared the fields easily recognized the basic tamale ingredients: corn meal and pork. Others maintain that the Delta’s history with tamales goes back to the U.S.-Mexican War one hundred years earlier, when U.S. soldiers from Mississippi traveled to Mexico and brought tamale recipes home with them. Others argue that tamales have simply always been in the Delta. The Mississippian culture of mound-building Native Americans in the area reaches back thousands of years, with an agriculture based in maize. Tamales have been a portable food of war parties and field workers for millennia."
I have never heard of these before, and find this kind of thing really fascinating...apparently these tamales are boiled in a broth that is heavily seasoned with cayenne pepper powder, making them truly 'hot tamales.'
Check out the book,The Tex Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh,which has a chapter on tamales and mentions these.He has a recipe in there how to make them,and also chapters on tacos, enchiladas and other stuff with recipes. I never heard of them before his book either.
I do however recall my dad saying grandpa would purchase sometimes tamales from an older mexican gentleman and bring them home to the family.This was in the 1920s back in Hot Springs,Arkansas.I think there was even a chili parlor downtown too,in those days.