It is Tamale Time at ASU C.A.S.A. Center

(11-21-2014)

Article by Brittany Moore '17

Cheryl Ravens and Gustavo Plascencia prepare filling for tamales

Photo by Geri Cummings, Cheryl Ravens and Gustavo Plascencia prepare filling for tamales

On November 20, the Adams State University Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement (C.A.S.A.) Center hosted It's Tamale Time, a heritage event planned to celebrate Mexican Revolution Day and cultural custom of making homemade tamales. Students, staff, faculty and community were invited to partake in the experiential cooking activity of learning how to make tamales.

C.A.S.A. Center hosted Cheryl Ravens, Art Department administrative assistant, and Gustavo Plascencia, assistant professor of art, who both shared the history of the tamale making tradition and the many different ways tamales are made. Participants rolled up their sleeves and got to cooking.

Beginning at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., tamales were prepared, cooked, and eaten. The morning began with a brief history of the tamale that was read and discussed among the students, faculty, and staff working around the kitchen island. Everyone joined in on the fun of spreading the fluffy and sticky masa on the corn husk, and then filling them with many different options laid out in front of them. The filling options were pork red chili; green chili and cheese; bean; and dessert tamales. Four people worked on the pork tamales and four people made green chili, been, and desert tamales. Participants rolled, folded, and tied 500 tamales. Stories were shared of other traditional foods families would make once or twice a year.

The preparation of the tamales started two days in advance with the cooking of the pork roasts, which slow-cooked in the crock pots overnight until tender. The second day of preparation included shredding the pork, making the red chili, slicing the cheese, chopping the green chili and cooking the cinnamon raisins. Though students would come and go because of class, the C.A.S.A. always had an extra helping hand. ASU alumna, Gerri Cummings '13, had her camera in hand ready to take pictures, documenting the tamale making process.

Ravens and Plascencia planned and directed the making of the tamales. As cultural chefs, they shared their different traditions of tamale making. Ravens showed how her family ties off the ends of the tamale and Plascencia showed how he folds the tamale instead. Ravens shared her family recipe with the C.A.S.A. Center. Together, Ravens and Plascencia, along with C.A.S.A. Center Director Oneyda Maestas, community, faculty, staff, and students, completed the tamale making process and once cooked, the tamales were ready to be devoured. This event was made possible with the help of everyone that participated and lent a hand.