By: Elizabeth Webber Akre
I guess it was around September that my little sister told me that her husband was looking around for a new company. She was not excited about the fact that the top location choices were Texas and Colorado, since she now has a little one and has all our family within a couple hours drive of each other. But, it was a great opportunity and a sweet deal, so in the midst of the holidays, they moved to Houston. Her husband went before Thanksgiving, while Katherine stayed behind to deal with getting their house in Asheville sold and closed. After that was completed, she loaded up what was left in her SUV along with the baby, the dog and my parents. They accompanied her out there to make sure she got there ok and to help with the toddler.
While in Texas, mom and dad happened into a Kroger one day to get groceries to take back to Katherine’s new house. They couldn’t help but notice that there was a lady behind the deli counter making fresh tortillas. But, wait, there’s more…she was also making tamales! Ever since they returned to South Carolina from this journey, I’ve heard about these tamales non-stop. Other than chile rellenos, tamales are probably our favorite Mexican specialty. Mom and dad were blown away by how great these “grocery store” tamales were. I’ve been jealous hearing about them ever since.
Well, since the kids had a half day and the next day off from school, we scheduled a long weekend for me and my daughter to fly out with mom and dad for a visit. (This time of year is crazy for us…it starts with my niece’s birthday [3 this year], next day is mom and dad’s anniversary, March 31 is dad’s birthday, next day is my sister’s birthday [not an April Fool’s joke, it’s legit], then my baby’s birthday on the 8th. And don’t forget that Easter typically falls somewhere in the midst of all this celebration. So, off to Houston we flew to celebrate all our family festivities and to check on my sister and her new town.
We had several great culinary adventures on this trip, about which I will write subsequent posts. But today, we’re talking about tamales. After a visit to the Johnson Space Center (NASA), we went to a Mexican restaurant called Edouardo’s. Both my parents and I ordered the tamales. We were served two pork tamales with charro beans. The tamales were certainly better than any I’ve had around here. The masa was nice and tender and moist. The pork was well seasoned and moist and was that kind of “shreddy” meat that I like. The masa was a bit thick, but since it wasn’t dry, it was ok with me.
However, the next day, mom and dad made a grocery run before my niece’s party started and guess what they came home with? A 10-pack of Kroger tamales. I know it sounds improbable, but those little ladies at the Kroger deli have got it goin’ on! These were some of the best I’ve ever had. Now I understand why mom and dad have been talking about them for the last 3 months. Unfortunately, once the package was opened, none of the tamales stuck around long enough for any photo shoots, but I did get one of the (almost as good) ones from the restaurant!