yay masa/no mas.

We've had a slightly dreamlike few days of cooking, eating, drinking. socializing, etc. Dreamlike in a good way, including last night's extra-dreamy tamales, but I now need a few days of returning to reality, so will catch up with you once that's been achieved.

What you're looking at here is the final assembly of the shrimp and basil tamales by our esteemed colleagues Klary and Dennis. Yes, we made our dinner guests assemble their own dinner. But, you'll agree, right?: one of the coolest things about cooking for other people, and especially cooking for other people who come from previously faraway lands, is the opportunity to make for them something that is somehow comfortingly familiar and yet absolutely unlike anything they've ever tasted before. Even better is revealing how un-secret and essentially simple the construction process is, and a tamale is a nearly perfect teacher in this regard.

These tamales in particular taste like the essence of southwestern cooking to me. Mostly due to the BBQ sauce in the masa dough and the smoked mozzarella added to the filling. This may sound like a smoke overload, but to me at least the end result is quite subtle and mysterious. The marinade for the shrimp also adds some sneaky complexity: hazelnut oil, lime juice, and rosemary.


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