Holiday rush for tamales seen across San Antonio

Locals often say it’s not Christmas without tamales

SAN ANTONIO – Almost everywhere selling tamales in San Antonio has lines out the door, with some people sleeping in their vehicles waiting for the doors to open.

That’s how integral tamales are during the holiday season. Locals often say it’s not Christmas without them.

Since tamale-making parties or tamaladas at home aren’t always feasible, many pre-order their tamales, but even then, they often have to wait in line like everyone else.

“They’re delicious. It’s a tradition, and there’s just something about them that’s so good,” said a woman named Diana, who was waiting to pick up an order at the Culebra location of Delicious Tamales.

She was even willing to stand in line for a co-worker who couldn’t be there herself.

“She’s a little older, and so she wanted some tamales for her family, so here I am,” Diana said.

A woman named Kathleen said it was important for her to be there with guests in town.

“My daughter and her new husband just flew in from California, and there’s nothing like tamales at Christmas time,” she said.

There are now all kinds of variations of the humble tamale that date back to ancient times, its history detailed by the U.S. Library of Congress.

Yet Valerie Gonzalez, the owner of Delicious Tamales, quickly points out that although they produce “thousands of dozens at a time,” it’s done the old-fashioned way at their central distribution facility on Culebra.

“We cook our corn. We grind our corn. We do everything like grandmother’s kitchen,” Gonzalez said.

She said her small army of workers starts their day very early, ahead of the expected holiday rush.

“I’ve been doing this [for] 43 years, and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of people that love Delicious Tamales,” Gonzalez said. “You got Hispanics, whites, African-Americans, Asians, everybody. If you’re in San Antonio and you don’t have Delicious Tamales, you’re not a true San Antonian.”

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

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