Tamale-making is a tradition for many San Benito County families

Every year, the Diaz sisters get together to make tamales. This year, a new cook learns the ropes

Editors' note: "Food Out Loud" is a podcast series comprised of interviews conducted by Rachelle Escamilla to be published through Benitolink and hosted on her SoundCloud account. The series is human-interest based and meant to highlight the diversity that exists in San Benito County. Some of the sound collected will be aired on KKUP as part of the "Out of Our Minds" radio show, which Escamilla hosts.

Food Out Loud Series, Episode 1

Maria Diaz was born and raised in San Benito County. For over 10 years she has worked at Paddington School Daycare as a housekeeper and teacher’s assistant. She and her sister, Martha Diaz, have been working in the same kitchen every year preparing tamales for the holiday season. Maria inherited the tamale-making job from her mother.

This year, Maria’s daughter, Priscilla DeAnda (who is a full-time student and Welcome Center lead at Gavilan College) had her hand in the driver’s seat behind the stove making the stuffing.

I was welcomed into their cozy place and found Maria’s children, who are now adults, sitting around the table with all of the tools needed to make tamales: recently-cleaned husks, mugs of warm water to help the masa-spreading process, and bowls overflowing with ochre-colored masa. Priscilla had a bottle of Pietra Santa Red in front of her – a new addition to the Mexican-American table. Their cat sat quietly on the chair watching the process of husks being spread with masa and stuffed and folded –  and theses dozens of tamales would be steamed that night, cooled, placed in Ziploc bags and distributed among family and friends per the traditions of our culture.

To listen to the entire episode, click here.  

–  If there are families in San Benito County who want to be featured regarding their family dinner get-togethers, they should contact Escamilla through her website

Rachelle Escamilla

Rachelle Escamilla is the host of "Out of Our Minds" on KKUP, author of "Imaginary Animal" and a columnist for Mission Village Voice.