Indio International Tamale Festival

Savor the marvel of masa at this desert-based Decembertime favorite.

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TAMALES AND TOGETHERNESS: While most famous foodstuffs can be made by a single cook, there are some dishes and treats and classics that are known for drawing family members or friends to the kitchen for one big delicious group effort. A Thanksgiving turkey can often benefit from a couple of chefs (one in charge of the rub and basting, the other overseeing the bird) while complicated cakes sing under the guidance of a few pastry pros. And as for the tamale? That's one of the great come-together edibles, for it takes time, and a number of friends, to create several dozen perfectly wrapped perfect-to-eat goodies. Someone is on the husks, a few people are at the masa station, and as for the fillings? It really is an all-hands-on-deck project. That's one reason a popular tamale festival is a true, heart-embiggening bash, for it isn't simply about the comidas sabrosa for sale: It's the community spirit, both of those who excel at the venerable art of tamale-makery and those who love their tamales dearly. Prepare for this comity and happy eating-togetherness at the...

INDIO INTERNATIONAL TAMALE FESTIVAL, one of the majors on the tamale festival calendar. It's celebrating its first quarter century in 2017, and foodie magazines to cable shows have detailed its savory path since the beginning. The first weekend in December is your moment to head for the desert — that's Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 — and, once again, there's no admission to enter (you'll just need funds for all of the amazing tamales you intend to consume). Will you find the perfect calabacitas tamale this year? A pumpkin-luscious packet of yumminess? A carne asada tamale that you'll talk about for decades to come? The possibilities are plentiful. You may even be inspired to host your own tamale day back home, the kind of day where friends come over to kneed some masa, flattened some husks, and find joy in connection, community, and calabacitas-stuffed rectangles of epicness.

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