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Unwrapping tradition: 2020 Tamal Institute shares significance of tamales through free virtual series 

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While many San Antonians may have fond memories of making tamales with family during the holidays, the Tamal Institute — yes, that’s a thing — is unwrapping the significance and history of the masa-filled treat with a free virtual series.

The City of San Antonio World Heritage Office — in collaboration with UTSA Libraries Special Collections, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and The Culinary Institute of America — will host the first in a series of free virtual events this Friday, October 16, from noon to 1 p.m.

Viewers of the session, wordily dubbed "2020 Tamal Institute: Los Tamales de Nuestros Antepasados," will discover ancient tamal recipes from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Mexican Cookbook Collection and new ways of preparing traditional tamales with a cooking demonstration by Dr. Lilliana Saldaña, UTSA Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies.

UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection is the largest in the nation and includes recipes from as far back as 1789.

“Some manuscripts in the collection include handwritten recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation,” Dean Hendrix, Dean of UTSA Libraries, said in a release. “A tamalada is a true definition of how culture is expressed through food, and like a cookbook, provides great insight into the stories and treasures that have lived in our region for centuries.”

A panel discussion will follow, including Saldaña as well as Cristina Ballí, Executive Director of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center; Stephanie Noell, Special Collections Librarian with UTSA Libraries Special Collections; and with Hendrix as moderator.

Those interested can register to watch the free event online at the Tamal Institute website.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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