From a very early age my mum made sure she taught me the value of work and independence. One of the ways for my mum to generate some extra money was to make tamales on the weekend. A tamal is a traditional Latin American dish made from a corn dough. So, you could say that my first ever job was to help my mum make and sell tamales.
To cook tamales the main thing you need is a banana leaf. This is what the tamal is cooked in. My first job on a Saturday morning was to take my machete – I was 13(!) – go to the forest (tropical) and cut down some banana leaves for the tamales. I remember watching the sloths in the surrounding trees while I was cutting the banana leaves. I would bring back the leaves to my mum, wash them, cut them down to size and get them ready for the corn filling.
My next job would be to grind the corn into a paste, manually. That was tough! My mum would do the rest. She would use a filling of either pork or chicken, which would have been cooked almost like a stew, along with egg, onion and olives. First she would put the corn dough / paste in the panama leaf, then place on top the chicken or pork, a few olives and egg, then fold up the banana leaf and tie the ‘parcel’ with string. She would then boil the parcel – for about half an hour to forty minutes. Then it’s done. Tamales!
The young entrepreneur
My mum would give me the list of the people who had placed orders. I would jump on my bicycle and go and deliver them. Without knowing it at the time, my mum was teaching me the meaning of entrepreneurship. I used to sell pattie for my Gran too – as well as journey cake. But – well – that’s another story!
Until next time. Live slow!