My first tamales, sad to say, where the canned version that Hormel puts out. When I was a child my grandfather owned the grocery store in a small town in Kentucky. We were allowed to pick food from the shelves for our meals when we visited. A can of tamales was my first choice. Pork rinds were my second. Also, sad, but true.
Once I moved to New Mexico, I learned that tamales actually have texture and come in wonderfully flavorful varieties like green chiles and chicken. Today, I heard about the best tamale place in the world, according to the folks on the NPR show “Splendid Table.”
Rhonda’s Famous Tamales, a cafe that also serves soul food, isn’t in New Mexico, but in Arkansas. Located in the Arkansas Delta region of the state in Lake Village, Rhonda’s is one of those places that is worth driving out of you way for. If Arkansas wasn’t so far from Columbus, and I didn’t have so much to do, I’d be there for dinner.
Rhonda cooks her tamales in a coffee can–12 per can. The suggested way of eating them is scooping them out with saltine crackers. If you get the Hormel version, you can smash them up on white bread. Don’t forget to sop up the juice.