Inside a tamale lady’s kitchen, years of traditional Mexican recipes mix with American culture on Thanksgiving

Local News

TULARE, Calif. (KGPE) – Hortencia Lopez doesn’t have much, but she inherited all she needed from her mother –a traditional tamale recipe.  

“When I came here [from Mexico], I didn’t have a higher education, But my mother said to me, ‘This food always sells,'” she shared. 

And for the last twenty years, the single mom has been doing exactly that –selling tamales of all kinds in Tulare, and it’s how she’s supported herself and her two kids. 

She sells them year-round, walking from neighborhood to neighborhood offering them for $18 a dozen. But during the holidays, she doesn’t have to worry about a clientele.  

“I get a lot of orders,” she says, adding she’s already lost track of how many tamales she’s putting on families’ tables this year.  

Hortencia’s Mexican recipe mixes well with American traditions. Thanksgiving kicks off her busy season.  

“I barely get any sleep or rest.”

She says it’s a job that gets more tiring every year as she gets older, but it’s rewarding nonetheless. 

“Sometimes my hands burn from the jalapeno or from grabbing a hot batch. But at the end of the day, I always get a new client that says ‘I heard about your tamales, I want to try them too’ and it’s all worth it.”

So she preps meat and salsas ahead of time, waiting for the next big order as she reveals her secret ingredient:

Haciendolo con mucho amor se venden muy bien.

Making each batch with love is how they sell out so fast.  

To try Hortencia’s tamales, you can reach her at 559-837-0472. 

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