tamales… they're probably the most antique dish recorded in Mexican cuisine. We find them all around the country, we even have a saying to express that one has got options just by enlisting availability of spicy, sweet and just lard. Sounds a bit strange, but it makes sense if you come to think of it. Now, anyone who claims having Aztec blood running through their veins will eat them without a doubt. Now, if you are in mexico City or plan to be there, just google ‘Tamales doña emi' and you'll find a vast amount of reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, blogs just like this one, I mean, they are quite easy to find, and on top of it, most of the comments related to them are tremendously positive. Most people find them simply MARVELOUS. And I completely agree with them. I think they're just spectacular; they've always been.
Every time I go to mexico city, one of my must-do's is to eat at least a couple of these beautiful fluffy husk wrapped corn cakes. At the very least, and because I am in my hometown, I will make some space in the program to have them for breakfast with my dad. Now, I am not a fanatic of the sweet ones, but green salsa and rajas (poblano strips) with cheese drive me crazy. Last time I went, Ms. Carmen convinced me to taste a newer flavor: figs with cream cheese, OMG! It was delicious! But let me tell you why, they are so fluffy, that I can only describe it as biting a cloud in each mouthful.
Now, my story with this shop which some call ‘the best tamales in colonia Roma' or even ‘the tamale dynasty' is a lot less journalistic, but much closer to my heart. And in fact, I can't explain why I hadn't sat down to write this post before, since I share the story with everyone I know.
Currently, the shop is located on the street of Jalapa, just one block from their original location, just behind a sports club called Club Deportivo Hacienda, if I'm not mistaken. Now, my dad attended the Elementary School which is just across the street from the current shop. It's called Benito Juárez. Therefore, my grandma knew very well Ms. Emi, the original owner of the shop. She lived just a few blocks from there in the same neighborhood on the street of Toluca. Frequently, she would stop by and get a tamale with a cup of guava atole -a corn flour drink typically accompanying tamales in different flavors. When my dad started to work sometimes he would run into Ms. Emi. This, dad says would embarrass him, since, even though he was already wearing his tie and suit, the lady wouldn't hesitate to give the young man his ‘tamalito' for free, for she didn't want him to go to work on an empty stomach. However, Mr. Luis, as dad is now called by the ladies at the shop, continued to go get tamales from Ms. Emi, then to his daughter, and now to Ms. Carmen, her granddaughter. First, he went alone, then he went with my mama. When my sister and I were born, he would get up early on a Saturday morning, and by the time we would wake up, the whole house smelled like tamales coming out of the steamer ready to be eaten. A real treat.
Back then I would only be 5 or 6 years old, so, my view of the world was solely through what I was shown by my parents, and because dad would always go there, I would think they were the only ones on the surface of the Earth. As I grew up, I obviously learned otherwise, however, I have always thought they are the very best. I think my first time at the shop was as a teenager, when I went with my dad precisely on February 2nd, since we were getting some tamales for the family to celebrate at home candlemas; something we had to have on our table every year.
Ms. Emi's shop for me has always been a part of my life, even after leaving Mexico a few years ago, since they are the first image that comes to my mind when I talk about tamales. Therefore, if not this year for Candlemas, do it on any other date, but if you are in Mexico City, visit this place. I give you my word you won't regret it.