We just celebrated New Year’s Eve with tamales, ponche and fireworks. Guatemalan tamales are a labor intensive process that begins with the purchase of roosters and chickens that will be butchered for the celebratory meal. If you are vegetarian or just squeamish about this, please skip this post.
There were four women that helped prepare the poultry. Their skilled hands moved quickly through the process and before I knew it, everything had been cut into pieces and the pila had been thoroughly scrubbed and return to order. Bundles of fruits and vegetables were bought and banana leaves were gathered. First the ponche was made with pineapple, papaya, cantaloupe and other fruit, then put to simmer for a long time (that’s the pot with the yellow stuff inside). The banana leaves, which were already cleaned, were filled with masa, sauce, 2 rasins, 1 prune, and 2 slivers of red bell peppers, then wrapped and tied shut. They cooked over the fire for about 7 hours. The final result were delicious, tender, moist tamales that were eaten near midnight, before the fireworks began. I stood on the rooftop and could see 360 degrees of fireworks arising from the center of town and all the surrounding hillside communities. Hello, 2017.