Taqueria del Sol Chef Wins Hot Tamale Title in Mississippi
Eddie Hernandez, executive chef at Taqueria del Sol, has won a following for blending flavors of the South with those of his native Mexico. The proof can be found in the long lines of customers outside the restaurant.
Hernandez just scored a hit in the Deep South. He won the top celebrity chef award last weekend at the Delta Hot Tamale Festival in Greenville, Miss.
The festival is kind of a big deal. Expect to see articles about it in the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian and Garden & Gun, which is one of the sponsors. (They’re all following the lead of Decaturish, of course.)
Hernandez vanquished several well-known names from the food world: Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer of Hog & Hominy in Memphis; Donald Link of the restaurants Cochon and Herbsaint in New Orleans; and Rogan Lechthaler of the Downtown Grocery in Ludlow, Vt., who has Mississippi roots.
Interestingly, Taqueria del Sol doesn’t normally serve tamales, though it does sell tacos and enchiladas. Hernandez said he’d probably put one of the tamales on the menu as a special.
Maybe you’re wondering why folks in the Mississippi Delta care about tamales. It’s because they revel in the idiosyncrasies of their home.
Food historians think Mexican workers introduced tamales to the Delta and local cooks adapted them to local tastes. Compared to a Mexican tamale, a Mississippi Delta tamale is more tightly wrapped and is filled with spicy meat and corn meal. It’s usually not slathered in sauce.
Greenville has declared itself the Hot Tamale Capital of the World and even trademarked the phrase. It holds the annual festival to celebrate this food.
Hernandez served three kinds of tamales: Pork with fresh salsa relish; fresh corn, poblano chile and cheese; and a dessert tamale filled with blueberries and golden raisins.