This past Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves in downtown Somerton, Arizona - a few miles outside of Yuma. So, why were we in Somerton? For the their 2nd Annual Tamale Festival, of course.
We got the heads-up about the festival from Ed over at mmm-yoso. As a happy coincidence, we were already planning on driving back from visiting Sherry's folks in the Tucson area on the day of the event, and our route goes right through Yuma.
When we got there in the early afternoon, the festival was in full swing.
They closed off the main drag through town and both sides of the street were lined with dozens of vendors selling tamales at $1.50 a pop. We found a stand that was doing a good business (multiple people ahead of us were buying their tamales a dozen at a time) and ordered a beef tamal.
It came hot out of the steamer, and was just begging to be opened:
Inside, the brilliant yellow-orange masa was filled with shreds of tender beef in a red sauce, along with some strips of green chile. The masa had great texture and flavor.
Next up, ordering a pork tamal.
The pork was finely minced, and had nice rich taste. As a bonus, there were a few slices of potato inside as well.
The next tamal we tried was our favorite of the day - a corn and green chile tamal. The masa had an amazing fresh corn taste (I assume they must puree fresh corn and add it to the mix), and the green chiles had a great spicy kick to them. Fantastic tamal.
Our only disappointment of the day was our final tamal - cheese and green chile. Ironically, this one came from the vendor voted "most authentic" at last year's fest. In addition to being pretty skimpy in size, the masa did not have very good texture or flavor. Oh well, you can't win them all.
As we were leaving, we noticed one of the vendors preparing a fresh batch of tamales. Probably getting ready for the dinner rush (the festival ran until 10pm).
Overall, we really enjoyed the festival. It made a perfect lunch stop on our trip home.
Update: Ed from mmm-yoso just posted part one of his pictures from this year's festival. Check it out here.