by Marshall Ward
Hot tamales are the ultimate Mexican comfort food, and you can get them homemade at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market.
Kathy Hanshaw runs The Tamale Girl in the market’s white tent, and she makes the savoury delights following a family recipe.
Hanshaw is originally from Texas, where she and her family perfected their recipes for varieties of tamales with beef, pork, roast chicken and vegan black bean.
You can get mild or spicy tamales, garnish them with incredible red or green salsa, and enjoy them with Spanish rice and beans.
“I even do a shrimp fajita, beef brisket, along with some breakfast tacos,” Hanshaw says, “but tamales are really the food I’m known for.”
Tamales are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, she says, and are steamed so they’re a little healthier than your traditional Mexican fare.
And you can order Hanshaw’s tamales hot and ready to eat or fully cooked and frozen.
“That’s the beauty of how I sell them,” she says. “A lot of people will order one as a hot food item to go, fall in love with it and then decide they want to have more at home and cook them at their own leisure.”
From their Mexican sodas that come in a variety of tangy and refreshing flavours to festive decorations and cacti, The Tamale Girl’s booth is eye-catching, to say the least.
You can’t miss Hanshaw and her teenage daughter, Cleo, always decked out in bright flowers and colourful style.
“Since she was about eight, Cleo has been coming with me to festivals and now she works with me at the market,” says Hanshaw. “She can tell you everything and answer all your questions regarding tamales – she loves them. And that’s one of the things I’ve learned here at the market, you’ve got to love what you’re doing and believe in your product.”
And like her mother, Cleo is an artist with a love for self-expression and individuality.
“She definitely has flair,” says Hanshaw. “I’m very lucky I’ve got a great co-pilot working with me every Saturday, just being a super helpful young lady. I’m really proud of her, for being 17 and getting up at five in the morning, you couldn’t ask for more.”