By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
In the Rio Grande Valley, tamales and Christmastime go hand in hand. The people of San Benito are no exception, particularly Place 4 San Benito City Commissioner Joe D. Gonzalez.
“This is one of the most exciting times that I clearly remember from when I was a little boy,” said Gonzalez, recalling numerous tamale-filled Christmas memories. “We come from a big family, so my mother and all my sisters would gather around the table and they were all involved in making tamales, because you can’t have Christmas without them. It was always something that everybody looked forward to, at least in my family.”
Gonzalez, who has served on the City Commission for two years, is the second of five judges announced in the Fifth Annual San Benito News “Best Tamales in Town” contest, which is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 13.
“It was a Christmas tradition,” Gonzalez said. “All my sisters living in this area would get together with my mom. Together they would make huge amounts of tamales for everybody. In our culture, Christmastime and tamales go side by side. You can’t separate them. It’s just been a tradition that we’ve held since I was a little boy. It has gone from generation to generation. It is something that we all enjoy.”
Gonzalez will join San Benito CISD Board President Yliana Gonzalez and three other judges at the News office, located on 356 N. Sam Houston Blvd., where they will use their tamale expertise to determine who makes the best tamales in town.
“I usually get the pork or the bean tamales, those are the ones that personally I like, but I enjoy everything,” explained Gonzalez. “I’m honored and excited. I’ve been reading about it every year since you all started it. It sounds like a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be interesting. I’m honored.”
As previously reported, the contest remains open to the public as contestants are only asked to bring one dozen of what they consider their best tamales to the News office by noon on Dec. 13. Judging will begin shortly thereafter and a winner will be announced once the scores are tallied.
Entries will be judged based on taste, texture, originality and presentation; the winner will be awarded a $100 gift card to a sponsoring business, not to mention an article published in the following issue (Dec. 15 weekend edition) featuring the individual or business as the winner.