Tamales can be traced back to as early as 7000 B.C. in Pre-Columbian history, when the Aztec women were taken along in battle as cooks for the army. There was a need to have a more portable yet sustainable food and the tamales could be made ahead of time, packed and warmed as needed.
Originally, the tamales were cooked by burying them in hot ashes, which made them crispy and brown. However, as time progressed, the Aztecs began to implement new methods for cooking, learned from the Spanish conquistadors. At which point, steaming the tamales in underground pits or in uncovered pots became the practice. When steaming the tamales, the Aztecs believed that the tamal sticking to the bottom of the pot was a sign of good luck, and would protect them of the dangers on the battleground. Continue reading