A win-win holiday tradition
Tamales mean cash for makers, treats for buyers
— reported by the Houston Chronicle
From her tiny, crowded kitchen in her one-bedroom apartment, Amelia Perez can make, in a matter of hours, her livelihood this time of year.
She quickly scoops masa into the corn husk lying in her hand and spreads it loosely over the leaf, fills it with cooked spicy pork — or chicken, beef, beans, Oaxacan cheese, pineapple, coconut, raisins or vegetables — then rolls it tightly, and carefully places it in a vaporizing pot on the stove.
As the cold weather and holiday season set in, people will come knocking on her door or call her cell phone — as they always do — asking for a few dozen tamales. At $7.50 a dozen, she can earn several hundred dollars a week to supplement the income she makes from selling cosmetics or cleaning houses.
Like other tamaleras, Cerda, 46, started cooking for others as a way to supplement her husband’s income from laying tile. But as friends told family members who told others about her tamales, she took to cooking and selling Mexican food full-time. Tamales are always a best-seller.