Pandemic brings changes to tamale-making holiday traditions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sal's Mexican Restaurants in the Valley has created handmade tamales from scratch for years.

The pandemic and a smaller staff will change their tamale-making this season.

"As a result, the production for the quantity we're going to produce this year is greatly reduced and we anticipate that we're probably going to sell out probably in the next week to ten days," said Lorraine Salazar with Sal's Mexican Restaurants

The restaurant usually makes 48-thousand tamales during an average holiday season. This year, they anticipate making half of that due to a smaller workforce impacted by COVID restrictions.

Over at Vallarta Supermarkets in Central Fresno, pre-made masa is ready for people to buy and make tamales at home, even if it's in a smaller scale this year.

"We really see the spike in tamale season from the end of October to mid-January. Vallarta Supermarkets sells over 3 million tamales. So we really can see it's something people enjoy and still want to celebrate with," said Ivette Serrano with Vallarta Supermarkets.

Vallarta sells a wide variety from traditional to dessert and central American tamales. They're using technology to reach people so they don't have to leave home.

"If you don't want to make the tamales at home, you can order them through Postmates. Look for Vallarta Supermarkets on the Postmates app or you can order as well through Instacart," Serrano said.

Prices vary depending on your order.

Sal's is selling a dozen tamales in pork and chicken for $27.99. As for Salazar, she understands the importance of the season and urges people to be safe.

"This whole COVID environment that people are needing to hold on to something that is familiar, something that brings comfort. I believe that tradition and the tamales bring comfort to families," Salazar said.
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