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Tamale Pie — A Comfort Food Staple

Ready for some food history? I personally love these parts!

Tamales! Did you know that in Spanish the singular form of tamales is actually just tamal? English speakers ended up saying tamale, which in linguistics is called back formation. Cool stuff! (I’m an applied linguist. Bear with me.)

Tamales can be traced back as far as 8000 BCE in Meso-American history. The Mayans and Aztecs, along with countless other civilizations made and ate tamales. They were perfect for on the go meals. They helped sustain soldiers, hunters, and travelers.

Jump ahead a few millennia, and we’re in the 20th century with a comparatively modern American culture. Around that time, people started making “tamale pie.” Tamale pie just refers to a casserole with meat and tamale-like veggies cooked in a cornmeal or polenta-type crust.

That’s what we have for you today! It’s tamale pie. Tamale pie is a strictly American thing. It’s delicious and easier than traditional tamales.
I’m seriously considering doing this tamale pie for my kids in cooking club. While it’s not authentic, it is an easier way to get dinner on the table. It is also vegetarian which means that my vegetarian in the class will eat it! Woohoo! It’s simple, and it’s delicious.

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