My favorite Hispanic tradition definitely is Christmas. Every year my grandma, my great grandma, my sister and I get together in the kitchen about three days before Christmas Eve and make tamales.
This tradition began back when my great grandmother was a young girl, and she also helped her mother cook. It is always the same, red tamales, green tamales, candy tamales, and bean tamales. Eventually, it became a tradition that has continued until now.
The process begins at the crack of dawn (yes...I know, it it too early!) and we start getting all the pots and pans ready. While my great grandmother begins making the dough...(she has a secret recipe she won't share with anyone until it "is time") my sister and I wash and clean the corn husks, and my grandma starts cooking the beef. Soon enough, the strong aroma of roasting chiles fills the house combined with the smell of tender beef simmering on the stovetop, and the wrapping process begins.
The huge pot where the dough is kept, is placed in the center of the table where all four of us are able to reach, and for every corn husk, it is one tablespoon of dough spread out, a tablespoon of stuffing (whether it is chile, beef, or beans and cheese) and a small amount on top. Tightly wrapped, I then take the tamales that are ready and place them in a slow cooking croc-pot.
I never really know excatly how long the tamales take to make because I loose track of time. While the tamales are in the process of cooking, we usually have long conversations where my grandmothers tell stories of their lifetime, crack jokes, and watch novelas.
We make so many tamales that we obviously place them in carry-out containers and we take to neighbors, family members and save some for the upcoming Christmas dinner.
My favorite part of this long process is of course eating the tamales- while the're still warm!