Do You Know the Tamale Man?
"Ta-ma-leees!" he cries out in the morning air. "Tamales, tamales, tamaleeeees! Los tamales!"
Every Sunday morning, somewhere in the environs of the unholy hour of 7:30 a man parks his truck on the street outside my apartment, unloads a cooler full of tamales, and proclaims his wares are for sale.
And it drives me nuts.
Firstly, I would have to say this disturbs me because frankly, I hate tamales. I know, I know, this makes me the scourge of the earth in some people's eyes, but I can knock 'em since I've tried 'em, and of the many times I've tried the many varieties, I still don't like them. And there aren't many foodstuffs I hate. Trust me. But I hate tamales. It's all in the texture, methinks. Once husked, they have this moisture-slick coating that clashes with my palate; couple that with the general mealiness of the steamed cornmeal coating, and you have a recipe for something I can't digest. The fillings, no matter how deliciously spiced--and you'll attest your mother or your aunt or your cousin is the best tamale maker around, so I'll surely be converted--I also don't enjoy. It's all just kind of blah to me. I don't see the lustre. I'm not a fan.
So, that said, if the man with the cooler who pulled up to my curb at the crack of dawn each Sunday were hawking, oh, perhaps, "Chicken Satay!" or "Lamb Korma!" or "Coleslaw!" or "Donuts!" I might be just the slightest bit more inclined to put myself on his customer list. Just the slightest bit, however, because, civic-minded as I am, I've got a bit of a "board of health" quandry. Does the man have a permit to sell these tamales? Is it within the law for him to do so? I actually posed that question to several people gathered together once for the purpose of discussion (okay, fine, I brought it up to my English 102 students last quarter) and their response was laughter. No, of course he doesn't have a permit, they told me. And you don't go calling the cops on him. Besides, they pointed out, his tamales are probably really good.
So it's back to that again. Which we know is moot for me. So why elese does the tamale man drive me nuts?