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Tamal vs. tamale[edit]

Someone edited this into the article: "Originally called "Singular> TAMAL, Plural>> TAMALES." Somehow when people pronounced "tamales" to English speaking individuals, the word sounds "tamale" so therefore in United States the word has been used "tamale" for singular-plural of the product (Tamal). The reason is because the "S" is silent and/or the word is pronounced too fast." Really? That's not even proper grammar. Fixing it as soon as I finish typing this. Alistoriv (talk) 22:32, 9 May 2013 (UTC)Alistoriv

1 tamal, 2 tamales, 3 tamales... Tamale is a town in Ghana! NOT a word we use in Spanish. Please show some respect to the spelling of where the food actually originated from, México. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:20, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

TAMAL is the spanish and appropriate word. There is no TAMALE, let's show some respect to language and not "gringoize" everything. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:42, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

The English word is tamale. The Spanish is tamal. Seeing as how this is the English Wikipedia, we should use the English term. Nohat 05:51, 2004 Jun 28 (UTC) Yep, thoroughly agree. I'm going to move it. RickK 06:01, Jun 28, 2004 (UTC)

I've always thought of the sing. "tamale" as an import error, but what the heck. It's certainly the dominant form and it's closer to the Nahuatl root. Hajor 11:24, 28 Jun 2004 (UTC)
TamalE. I grew up eating AND making tamales, and never in my LIFE have I heard one called a "tamal". I thought someone made a spelling error until I caught the nose-in-the-air bit letting me know _I_ was wrong. Bull, I say. And, if it's so "incorrect" to call one tamale a tamalE, then why isnt the page labeled "Tamal"? A word is only as "correct" or "incorrect" as it's usage. Thats how words work.-- (talk) 11:29, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the word is "Tamal". The added e is the result of English native speakers unaware of singular/plural forms in Spanish; English adds only "s", Spanish adds "es". Same thing happens with "FederalE". (talk) 20:30, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

No, this needs to be corrected. My family grew up in Mexico (I am first generation American) and they are always in shock about the spelling and pronunciation of TAMALE. There is no "e" on the end of it and no one in Mexico spells it this way. Plural, add "es", singluar, take the "es" off. This was an adopted error because Americans like to apply English language rules on foreign languages and leave it be. It is not pronounced ta-ma-lee and it is not spelled tamale. People are just used to hearing that garbage from the candy "Hot Tamale" so they assume it is correct. That person above never heard it because people here love to adopt incorrect language and run with it.------

Tamale is absolutely incorrect. I take great exception with non-Hispanic English speakers imposing their incorrect usage. You don't own the English language. Among English-speaking Hispanics "Tamal" is used in the singular when speaking English and thus it is an English word by usage. JamesReyes (talk) 22:09, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

In English, it is tamale (singular)/ tamales (plural); you don't own the English language. Tamal is not in the English language dictionary. We go by reliable sources, not personal opinion.Novangelis (talk) 22:16, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it is Tamale in English. This is, of course, the English version of Wikipedia. If you'd like to see the Spanish version, I invite you to hop on over to the Spanish version of Wikipedia. Alistoriv (talk) 01:04, 5 May 2013 (UTC)Alistoriv

Possible merges[edit]

tamale + humita[edit]

The pages tamale and humitas don't distinguish a clear difference. Humitas says it is another name for tamale while tamale says humitas are smaller and sweeter -but the humitas page discusses savory ones and has no mention of size. If there are no clear differences it is probably best to treat this all in one article. That gives a better idea of the full range and variation in the subject as well. Rmhermen 19:50, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

  • The Spanish Wikipedia has two separate articles on these two foods. Since the dishes come from Spanish-speaking countries and the Humita article came directly from es:Humita, I'll defer to their judgment and oppose the merge. | Klaw ¡digame! 14:51, 19 January 2006 (UTC)
  • The Tamal is an iconic representation of Traditions in Mexico. For instance, on Candlemas Day (Spanish: Dia de La Candelaria) it is widely traditional to have Tamales. I oppose the merge. Mau.S. 17:27, 2 February 2006 (UTC)
    • Since it's been four weeks and the only two opinions offered were in opposition, I've deleted the merge tags from the two articles. | Klaw ¡digame! 17:04, 13 February 2006 (UTC)
      • I can still see the merger suggestion. Is this still up for discussion?

tamale + nacatamal[edit]

(copied from talk:nacatamal) There is already a good article on tamales that this article can be merged into. I added some pictures of nacatamales - I believe the steamer in this picture is the same one used on the tamal page - makes for a nice size comparison. Dr d12 23:53, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Where is the section on merging Nacatamal with Tamal? Anyways... THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING!!! Nacatamal has about 15 more ingredients (potato, tomato, rice, olives, rasins, peppers pork or chicken with bone, etc) than any tamal, which we also have in Nicaragua. It tastes completely different and is wrapped in a Plantain leaf not a corn husk, corn husks dont add flavor whereas plantain leaves doo. Nacatamales are usually about 4 times bigger than any tamal. A tamal is usually not a meal by itself as is a nacatamal since it has so many ingredients and flavors and its normally pretty big, although some places are starting to make them smaller (still twice the size of a tamal). -- 21:41, 9 May 2007

I created a section for you. Anyways, I don't think that the debate is over whether tamales and nacatamales are the same thing. The questions are (a) Are they based on the same thing? and (b) Is there enough information about nacatamales to warrant a separate article? To (a) I say the answer is Yes. I mean, nacatamales are often defined as "Nicaraguan tamales". To (b), I believe the answer is No. And, unless this is changed, I support that nacatamal should be merged into a subsection, and the current article should be changed to a redirect to that section.
-- trlkly 08:15, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
There's room for different articles about regional variations on the same thing, e.g. vietnamese sandwiches, and [[California-style pizza]. I think the test is whether the regional version is distinct (my answer "yes"), whether it would make an interesting / notable article (yes), and whether there's enough sourceable information (yes) and information already in the article (medium-yes) to justify it. All in all I would favor keeping the nactamal separate to see if it grows into a full fledged article. 05:44, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe my reasons aren't as great, but as a wiki USER, more than editor(Isnt that why yall do this stuff? for the users?), I say keep em seperate. Also, on the "nicaraguan tamale" comment, Skunks are called Polecats, but they have nothing to do with European polecats, poles OR cats.-- (talk) 11:29, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Corn (maize) flour?[edit]

The first sentence states that a tamal is made from corn (maize) flour mixed with water and lard. This is not accurate, as corn flour is simply corn that is ground down to a fine powder (past corn meal), whereas masa is made through nixtamalization of the corn, which makes hominy (also called nixtamal) that is then ground into a powder. The second paragraph has masa, which redirects to that page, which explains it properly. Therefore, I recommend that "corn flour" be changed to masa mix, with the hyperlink. If someone is not sure what masa is, they can jump to the masa page and learn what it is. --Asacan 14:42, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Go ahead and amend the article accordingly. --Ezeu 15:10, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
It seems the amendment got deleted when the article is reworded. I attempted to add it back, although, since I couldn't fit both nixtamalization and hominy in the article, I used the one with which I am most familiar. Readers can find the link to nixtamalization in the hominy article.-- trlkly 08:19, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Can they be served cold? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:13, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes, they can be served cold, though they do taste much better hot.-- (talk) 11:32, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

"No obvious linguistic basis" for "tamale"[edit]

From the intro: "In English-speaking countries the tamal is usually called tamale in the singular, though there is no obvious linguistic basis for this name."

Aside from this being a very subjective statement, it is also very inaccurate; I think the reason for English speakers saying "tamale" is blatantly obvious: in English, adding an 's' to the end of a noun is the most recognizable way to pluralize it. It's easy to see how people saw "tamales" referring to more than one, and then decided that to get the singular form you just drop the 's'.

In any case, unless we can find some documented analysis of this topic, it seems irrelevant to discuss the origins of why English speakers say "tamale". Noting the use of the term would be fine enough without commenting on it, I think. Trau —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:27, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

That sounds like a reasonable compromise. Just note that "Tamale" was created by applying English singularization rules to a Spanish plural, and that it differs from the Spanish singular of "tamal". Then prescriptivists like me can point to this objective fact and say, "And this is retarded" while descriptivists can point to the same objective fact and say, "there's no problem with this." The Wiki ideal. -- (talk) 01:33, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I realize it's an old debate, but I'd like to reopen it. Sure, I've always thought it was "tamale", but I and others have believed incorrect things for quite some time. I did a quick check on a Spanish dictionary, and it seems that a single leaf-wrapped corn food thing is called a "tamal." Can anyone verify that this is not an import error? That native Spanish-speakers say, "I'm so hungry; I could really go for a tamale right now"? If not, this page should be renamed. If the word is indeed "tamal", and "tamale" is a nonsense-word formed by improper singularization, calling this page "tamale" is no more acceptable than calling Japanese swords "katanas" or saying, "I ate ten nigiri-zushis."

Another example would be "octopi" instead of "octopuses". The former is the result of an inaccurate Latin-style pluralization of a non-Latin ending. Just like "viri" is wrong, because "virus" is uncountable; the only alternative is to apply an English ending (-es). -- (talk) 00:46, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Tamale is an English word. It is obviously of Spanish/Nahuatl origin, but like all loan words it should be treated as an English word and not a form of code switching, and its pluralisation should reflect this. Wormwoodpoppies (talk) 17:51, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

It's tamale in English. Link to Tamale entry at AskOED [1]. I can't wait until nopale instead of nopal hits the OED.

Man, if Wiki can call a chile a chili, then I think TAMALE is fine!! Europeans dominated the 'chili' argument even though the word and the fruit is AMERICAN. Nuff said. --Jsderwin (talk) 00:10, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Guajillo sauce should be mentioned[edit]

The traditional guajillo sauce used for tamales should be mentioned. Badagnani (talk) 02:59, 30 March 2008 (UTC)


I changed "Native American" in the intro paragraph to "American Indian". The former, in addition to having fallen out of favour in the last decade, is also most commonly associated with the Indigenous Peoples of the United States and could cause confusion in this article about a primarily Mesoamerican dish. American Indian is currently the most accepted term in anthropological circles for referring to the indigenous peoples of the sub-arctic (i.e. non-Inuit/"Eskimo") Americas. Wormwoodpoppies (talk) 17:43, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

No good, because they're also part of the traditions of non-U.S. indigenous peoples living to the south of the U.S. Badagnani (talk) 17:45, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

I'm unsure how to input the tag, but this article has no references or citations.-- (talk) 10:23, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

There seems to be no mention of the differences in corn that is used between Latin American countries; in Mexico, Guatemala,Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica white corn is used. While in the Caribbean spanish speaking countries, Panama, Colombia, and I believe Venezuela yellow corn is used along with the traditional Plantain banana wrapping. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:58, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

And what of the 'All American' Tamale of North America?[edit]

Wherever there are Latin American immigrants, there are Tamales... which means they're everywhere in the U.S.

There are Tamale Festivals in several places that feature Tamales of all kinds. For instance, Indio, CA recently held one. A quick web search turns them up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:46, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

we need to include a North American section mentioning the famous delta style tamales, known as "Hot Tamales" they are not steamed but cooked in the broth the meat was cooked in (traditionally) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Chef Fincher (talkcontribs) 20:45, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. A section on the Delta tamale (perhaps even a master article) would be good. The Delta tamale differs in a few ways from both Mexican and Latin American tamales -- mainly in the fact that the juices from the cooked meat are used to boil the tamales, and they can be spiced in the meat, cornmeal mix, AND the cooking water. I'll work on this later. Joelmoses 2000 (talk) 00:56, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
I created a United States section with some very short descriptions. (talk) 09:25, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

wrapper edible?[edit]

For those of us who have never had one, do you eat the corn husk wrapper (or plaintain leaf or whatever wrapper is used)? (talk) 19:19, 26 December 2008 (UTC)

No. You take the husk/leaf off before you eat it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:08, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

clean up[edit]

Checked historical sources and changed the order of the article —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:29, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Alguna vez cuando estuve en el museo de antropologia de mexico la persona que dirigia el tour dentro del museo explico al grupo que dentro de los ritos los tamales tambien tenian un significado ambiguo que era celebrar el hacer parte tus antepasados atravez de los tamales, es decir los huesos y el maiz era tambien el significado de un humano. los huesos, la carne, envueltos, en fin del modo en que lo explico sonaba logico. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:03, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Cuban Tamales Origin[edit]

The article mentions that Cuban tamales are identical in form to the Mexican tamales. Actually other than using corn husks as a wrapper, they are totally different. Cuban tamales do not use nixtamal masa. They use fresh corn and sometimes fine ground corn is added as a thickener, they are flavored with sofrito (green peppers, tomatoes garlic, salt cilantro, lard, white pepper, achiote or bijol) most often the protein is pork although others are not unusual and some will use hot peppers such as "aji guaguau" for an extra kick. To make the tamales, the fresh corn is grated on a Cuban grater called a "guayo." This produces a watery corn mixture more water is added, then well blended then the mixture is strained. At this point fine ground corn can be added to thicken the corn mixture if needed. This is mostly done if the corn is not truly fresh, otherwise it’s not needed. The "sofrito" is cooked; the pork is cooked in the sofrito and added to the corn mixture. The wrapping method is also different as you have to create a leak proof pocket using two fresh corn husks, the mixture is ladled in the pocket, and then another husk is used to cover the opening. This is tied with string or more traditional with strips of corn husk. The tamales can be steamed or boiled until they set. The prime reason for Cuban tamales is the fresh corn. The sofrito and meat are "flavoring components.” The Tamales are often served with stews, meats or roast pork as a starch component of the meal. They can also be served as a snack or appetizers and will often be accompanied with cheeses and cold cuts as in the “Tamales Rellenos” served in Victor’s Café in New York. I think more research needs to be done on this subject. My grandmother taught me how to make Cuban tamales in Cuba, during the early 60's. She told me her grandmother taught her to make tamales; this pushes the history of Cuban tamales back to the mid 1800's at least. Since the Cuban Indians grew corn, it would not be inconceivable that they are part of the source of the Cuban tamales. My grandmother was a great source of traditional Cuban cooking and the primary inspiration why I became a chef later in life. Magicflute1950 (talk) 00:08, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Southern India, Mexico?[edit]

I'm no expert but something is wrong here. The article states that tamales originated in Southern India and that the word is related to the ethnonym Tamil. If so, how did they end up in Mexico and Peru before the Spanish arrived? And what happened to the origin of the word accepted elsewhere, the Nahuatl word tamalli? MikeG (talk) 03:32, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Old page history[edit]

I have moved some old page history that used to be found at the title "Tamale" to Talk:Tamale/Old history. Graham87 14:24, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Can someone please re-order the Tamale country by country please and divide up Latin American Tamale's.[edit]

I mean, why put Mexican tamale's at the top, be fair, re-organize each country's version of tamale's by alphabetical order NOT by some subjective heircharcal order of unfair representation. I love tamale's from all over Latin America and as far as I can tell, Mexico is part of Latin America, not like a separate special country above other Latin Americans. Even in food its a hoarding and nationalistic, amazing.

And please, separate each Latin American country up and expand on them with photos - If you list Ecuadorian's version of Tamale's, I want to see:

Ecuador They have humitas... etc. etc.

Brazil Tamale's, etc. etc.

Argentina Che, tamale...

Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:05, 8 September 2011 (UTC)


Pamonha is not a Tamale, even though is similar. It has different origins and tastes different. I've changed the description to reflect this. People should stop trying to force brazilian culture to fit into Spanish America culture - it's a different culture people. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:33, 27 September 2011 (UTC)


The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was to keep the article without merging. Geoff Who, me? 17:42, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

I came across the Guajolota article and noticed that it has no sources or references and is very short. I thought since it is described as a type of tamale, it could be merged into this article. If anyone has more information about Guajolotas, they could add it (with references) to that page so it can stand alone. Or maybe it should just be deleted per WP:Notability. Either way, I am bringing it here for discussion. HotshotCleaner (talk) 23:39, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

I found and added a book source for the guajolota article and cleaned it up a bit. It can probably stand on its own, since it is, after all, a tamale sandwich. Geoff Who, me? 17:36, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


The Mexican style tamale is called Ducunu in Belize. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:36, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

 DoneThanks for pointing this out. Dukunu has been added, but more importantly, it was added with a source. The material on Wikipedia should be verifiable.Novangelis (talk) 19:07, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Chinese equivalent[edit]

OMG I came across this page accidentally, but I just realized that it is the Western equivalent of the Chinese zongzi. Oh my goodness!! For people who are interested in developing the etymology (talk) 06:52, 13 July 2014 (UTC)

Wow. That is actually pretty interesting information.--MarshalN20 Talk 13:17, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Evidence that Aztecs ate tamales filled with flamingo?[edit]

This is stated in the very first part of the section called "Aztecs". I don't see how this could be true and did a little research and can't find any evidence that is it. From what I found, Mexican flamingos are from the Yucatan, the Aztecs lived in the more northern and central parts of Mexico. Also, in reading Bernardino de Sahagún's very detailed and extensive description of tamal fillings, I don't see flamingo. He list seems to be exhaustive by its nature. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Andrealawsongray (talkcontribs) 04:15, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

I guess Aztecs ate human flesh filled tamales too. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:40, 21 December 2016 (UTC)

Where is the evidence for this? "The diversity of native languages in Mesoamerica led to a number of local words for the tamal, many of which remain in use."[edit]

I believe this is more accurate "The name” tamale” or more correctly tamal — comes from the Nahuatl word tamalli " [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Andrealawsongray (talkcontribs) 04:23, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Mesoamerican and Banana leaves?[edit]

Bananas originated in south east Asian 8k-5k bce. They spread westward! Imported to"new" world by Portuguese in 15th and 16th century. So there was definitely Not a Mesoamerican dish using banana leaves as wrapper. How exactly did tamal get to Cuba for its version? Mesoamerican sailors - not likely.

This is pretty poorly sourced in terms of history. Stick to stuff that is verifiable! 2601:14F:8003:DAFC:7010:3243:9438:C620 (talk) 15:23, 26 November 2016 (UTC)


I am Sarai and I'm going to be editing the tamales page within the next couple days. I've found some good sources and plan to create two new sections; Origins and Etymology. I also plan to be adding/editing the Mexico section particularly the part mentioning zacahuil. From what I know zacahuil are HUGE tamales way bigger than 15 inches (about 3-4 feet although they can be slightly smaller) and are not just from Veracruz but actually the whole Huasteca region of Mexico. Mostly they are used for festivals and holidays, but can also be found sold in portions at the markets on Sundays. I will try to find some good sources on this information to back it up.Iamburdenedwithgloriouspurpose (talk) 18:35, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ Andrea Lawson Gray and Adriana Almazan Lahl, Celebraciones Mexicanas: History, Traditions and Recipes, Alta Mira Press, September 2013 /