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Jul 4, 2014 07:22 PM

Souvenir Tamales: Mexico City

On a lark, I brought my small, collapsible cooler. Then, on the plane to DF, I realized that I often see Mexicans in Los Angeles buying and selling quantities of tamales in my hometown, Los Angeles. It would be fun to have a small party when I get home and freeze the rest. Where and how do I get good tamales? Waylay a streetvendor on my last day? Order at a specialty shop? Tamales cost 7 bucks a dozen in LA and $1.50 if you get them off the street one-by-one. So, if I can find a cost-effective way to fill up my little cooler, I'd love to do this!

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  1. First thing to know: USA customs will not let you bring a product containing meat across the border. That lets out pork, beef, and chicken tamales, plus vegetable tamales that are made with lard. If you try to bring them and declare them, they will undoubtedly be confiscated. If you fail to declare them, they'll be confiscated anyway and you could be fined. Read it and weep: and here:
    Scroll down to the part about prepared food.

    Great idea, though.


    1. Cristina is right, fresh food items containing meat and most vegetables are considered contraband. Several years ago customs tightened up the laws on cooked meat coming into the country. This resulted in people who were crossing on foot at San Ysidro having burritos they were eating in line confiscated and discarded before they finished them. It was a big brouhaha. Ultimately, customs relaxed the rule a tiny bit to allow very small quantities of cooked meat to pass, not much more than what is in a burrito or a couple of tacos. Remember, California is an agricultural producer. Most of these laws are in place to prevent unwanted and non-native pests from getting in and established (think med fly)

      Tamales are labor intensive. $7 for 12 is about $.60 each. I don't think that's such a bad deal