Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tamal de Jacuané: Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas

An offering to the Mayan god god of rain,Chaahk, known as Tlaloc among the Aztec Empire, the Tamal de Jacuane, is a delicacy from the state of Chiapas,in Mexico.

The tamal is wrapped in corn husks, and is neatly tied at both ends. I purchased this from La Pichanchas restaurant at the airport in Tuxtla Guttierrez, Chiapas a few months ago. A fortuitous encounter with an airport stand selling the restaurants food products, and a little regional taste for the road.

The corn masa is stuffed with black beans and dried shrimp, an exotic combination. I suspect that Chaahk has particular tastes and needs something special in order to "make it rain."

But, the big surprise here is the hoja de hierbasanta wrapped around the tamal before it is enclosed into the corn husk. It gives the tamal a greenish color, but also deliciously flavors the tamal. The hierbasanta is like a Mexican grape leaf, a wrapper that adds a dominant character to the food. The hierbasanta is a tender woody-stemmed perennial, the Piper Auritum, in Latin.

The tamal de Jacuane is one of the many tamales that are unique to Chiapas.

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