SAN ANTONIO -

Now in its fourth year at the Pearl north of downtown, organizers of the Tamales! Holiday Festival said they are preparing for crowds despite predicted freezing weather Saturday.

The event from noon to 6 p.m. will offer more than 40 different varieties of warm tamales and other Tex-Mex specialties, as well as heaters and heating stations that will be set up on the grounds.

Elizabeth Johnson, a chef instructor, said the festival has become a San Antonio tradition that will feature both classic and innovative versions for the public to sample.

Admission is free, while food and beverage prices will vary from $1 to $5 per vendor.

Johnson said tamales that are South Texas staples over the Christmas holidays are also are popular in Latin America.

“It’s really interesting to see that tradition being carried out in so many different forms, with different masas, with different types of fillings,” Johnson said.

Nao, one of Pearl’s trendy restaurants, will be among those also featuring their versions of tamales.

Geronimo Lopez, Nao’s executive chef, said he will be preparing a Latin-Caribbean version, with polenta as the masa, a soft mixture of corn, butter and pork rind, spooned over a corn husk.

“You can smell the chicharron, and that’s a beautiful thing,” Lopez said.

The filling will be tender, juicy pieces of roasted pork leg, topped off with green mole sauce, queso freso and cilantro.

He said, “You have something that should taste like a tamal, but it’s definitely not looking like a tamal.”

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.