Tamale or tamal derives from the word tamalli, from the Nauhatl language spoken by our ancestors the Aztecs, meaning wrapped food. Tamales date back to as early as 8000 BCE, and were eaten not only by the Aztec, but Maya, and even Inca civilizations as well as the Olmeca and Tolteca before them. They were used as portable food to support their armies, hunters and travelers.
Tamales are born with one of the most ancient processes of enhancing the maiz (corn), Nixtamalization, the process of the grain soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, typically in limewater (the mineral, not the fruit), then hulled. This technique not only makes it easier to ground the maiz, but also enhances the nutritional value, flavor and aroma. This first step is crucial to make not just tamales, but tortillas, corn chips, hominy and mucho mas!
Tamales are steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper, cornhusks typically used in the north and banana leaf in the southern regions such as Oaxaca, which are famous for their Mole Negro filling.
Few countries have such an extensive variety of tamales as Mexico, where they are considered one of the most beloved traditional foods, that is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and usually with Atole or Champurrado, a sweet maize-based beverage that is also of indigenous origin.
Almost every region and state in the country has its own kind of tamale, and now we are making our own savory and sweet, as well as traditional and contemporary flavor tamales here in the Pacific Northwest!
Meet the Vendor
Jaime Soltero Jr. started Tamale Boy as a catering company in 2008 called Mayahuel Catering. Tamale Boy has evolved into a food truck catering and restaurant business with two Portland brick and mortar locations.
Soltero Jr. and his team aim for Tamale Boy to be a fun and approachable dining option that is affordable for everyone. Tamale Boy offers a seasonally changing menu designed to highlight cuisine from various regions throughout Mexico.