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Podcast Episode 10: Family Food Traditions

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We all have them – those recipes that have been passed down through our families for generations. This week’s episode of The Fine Cooking Podcast explores our editors’ family food traditions. Our guest, Grace Ramirez, explains how to make one of the beloved traditional foods she makes with her family: tamales.


Diana’s Grandma was famous for her Sunday gravy, a sauce that had every imaginable pork product in it. This Sicilian pork ragu simplifies the formula a bit.

Sarah’s family tradition is one of exploration and discovering new cuisines, like when her mom learned to make tabbouleh and kibbe from a friend’s mother. She didn’t get a chance to learn to make pierogies from her grandmother-in-law, so she has to rely on the Fine Cooking recipe.

Chris’s family traditions are more meat-heavy than he eats these days. But he’s been establishing new culinary traditions with his daughter. One of the most important things he’s taught her is the ultimate buttermilk pancakes from Fine Cooking.

His daughter also wants to learn to make Black Bean Quinoa Burgers.

There’s an excellent cookbook in this vein by Cal Peternell: Twelve Recipes.

Interview with Grace Ramirez

There are tamale traditions all over Latin America, each with its own regional variation.

In the Mexico City episode of Moveable Feast, Grace shares a tamale recipe that’s largely Mexican in style, though inspired by her Venezuelan background. This tamale recipe is more strictly in the Mexican tradition.

Grace’s cookbook, La Latina,  includes many more options for fillings, including chicken and beef, with adobo and mole sauces.

Two ways to make tamalaes: In Latin America, many cooks start with fresh masa, a moist dough made directly from ground lime-treated corn. However, it is very perishable and hard to find outside of Latin America and US border states. So a great alternative is to start with masa harina, a corn flour made from dried masa (Maseca is a well-known brand). Whether you start with fresh masa or dried, the dough always needs to be mixed with fat and beaten until fluffy.

The tamales Grace made on Moveable Feast were served with a Nopales-and-Pineapple Pico de Gallo, but she also likes to serve it with a simple roasted tomato salsa or a tomatillo salsa verde.


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