Before moving to Peru, I had only had tamales at Mexican restaurants. These delicious bundles of chicken and ooey, gooey queso were my image of what a tamale should be. They were served with rice and/or beans and maybe a small salad. I moved to Lima and found a completely different variety of tamales. Peruvians carry an amazing sense of pride in this dish, which can be eaten any time of day. I have become somewhat addicted to a Saturday morning breakfast consisting of a warm tamale, fresh bread, gouda cheese and homemade juice. My previous American addiction to pancakes with peanut butter is now long forgotten.
Peruvian tamales are made using a corn based dough and usually are stuffed with chicken or pork, olives, peanuts and of course, Peru's beloved aji pepper (super spicy, watch out for that one).
There's another similar food called humitas which are close to tamales, but foreigners be aware, Peruvians are serious about the distinction. Humitas are prepared with fresh corn, lard, salt and an ample amount of queso fresco (a creamy, unaged cheese common in LatinAmerican countries). The texture and taste varies slightly between the two but I am just as happy to eat either one.
Mm, so good. And how many days until Saturday?