One morning during our first Helpx experience we were introduced to the world of communal tamale assembly. Graduating from cleaning banana leaves to tying them up in preparation for boiling and cooking tamales was a huge deal for us and a huge jump in the tamale production line. We weren’t expecting there to be so much activity in a tiny town of 300 people. Fortunately for us the upcoming weekend would include a crazy mountain marathon on Saturday followed by a big futbol match between neighboring towns on Sunday. In preparation for all this was the community tamale making session held at the community center.
We we’re committed to a few hours of work which started with a huge pile of banana leaves that would be sorted, wiped down, and cut. These would provide the outer shell for the ingredients to be stuffed into to be cooked later. The locals assisted the gringos with the entire process, teaching us the proper ways to create stations and for the ultimate tamale making team.
At the one end of the room was the ingredients for tamales. Two lines were created to make the process a bit faster. In the corner was a tub of corn flour and laid out in rows were bowls of carrots, parsley, long slices of pork hot dogs, and rice. Individuals in charge of one or two ingredients, depending on their tamale seniority, put them on top of the corn flour. The women at the end of the food line would fold them tightly in two banana leaves and pass them to the person in charge or tying them together. Prior to tying, we had to prepare strings. Used rice bags were taken apart and the strings were pulled from this material. In the course of a couple of hours I went from clean bananas to tying the strings and finally throwing them into the pot for boiling.
For more on the area of San Gerardo and our first experience read these posts: