December is a special month in Costa Rica. The slightly longer nights are brightened by holiday lights in the cities and homes of many and cool, dry winds blow across the the northwestern plains and central valley. Here golden afternoons signal the beginning of the dry weather of Costa Rica’s summer and the season of vacations at the beach.
December is also a time of year when families and friends get together and enjoy a special traditional holiday treat: hot tamales and a cup of delicious Costa Rican coffee. In the illustrations below, we will take you through the process of making tamales.
1. Start with a specially prepared corn meal paste, green beans, red sweet peppers, culantro, corn meal paste colored with tomato and achiote, flavored rice, sliced carrots, pork, green peas, potatoes, and…
2. …fire-hardened banana leaves.
3. Next, spread the corn meal onto the banana leaf.
4. Take the orange-colored paste (a blend of corn flour meal, tomato and achiote) and spread it over the corn flour meal paste base.
5. Begin adding the other ingredients: rice, peas…
6. …sweet peppers, carrot slices…
7. …and finally add the remaining ingredients: potatoes, pork and a garnish of culantro.
8. Next wrap it all up tightly into a neat bundle in the banana leaves.
9. Tie the bundle securely with string.