Support the tamale maker next door

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readFeb 27, 2021

A couple of times of week, a man shows up at my place of work. He’s a modest-looking person, and the only thing he has on him is a lunch pail. He walks from building to building on our campus and doesn’t bother anyone but most people know why he’s there — he’s selling a selection of mouth-watering lunch items.

Sometimes he has delicious homemade tamales made by his wife. Other times he has hot soups, or caldos, with crackers. He’s been visiting us for years and still, not everyone knows his name but most do love his food.

On Saturdays, outside the town’s central park and on the main boulevard, if you’re taking a morning stroll, you might bump into a woman with a luggage cart. She’s up to the same thing as that man at work. She doesn’t have a sign. Literally no bells or whistles, but we know what she’s all about. She’s selling some homemade burritos.

Once in a while, outside the gas station, another person appears. This time a man with baked goods — empanadas and galletas. Anyone that passes by knows his stuff must be good because the aroma is heavenly. Yet, on most days, most people that come across these folks are too busy to stop and say hello or to even take notice that someone is there.

I find myself guilty of this regularly. These days, it’s hard to focus on what makes us uncomfortable. It’s easier to look the other way, to be dismissive. We don’t want to do it, but we live in a society that has created walls around the very way of life that existed for generations. Those humble vendors, for some reason, make some of us feel uncomfortable.

The lady that was raised to spend hours making those most perfect tamales should reap the rewards of her labor, so she sells them. It’s the kind of stuff people have done in villages, towns, and even cities forever.

Now, it’s hard to do because of the unintended consequences of rules, laws, and regulations meant to protect us. Did she prepare it in a commercial kitchen? What are the ingredients? Are the items refrigerated? Does she have a permit to sell them? Who is she?

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting things. I write about them and what makes them interesting.