By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ
With the Fifth Annual San Benito News “Best Tamales in Town” contest scheduled at noon on Friday, Dec. 13, it is now time to introduce the final two judges.
Putting his musical talents to rest while he summons his tamale-eating talents will be internationally-renowned singer Noe Pro.
“The fact that you guys even thought about me, it’s an honor for me to participate in something like this that has to do with the local community,” said Pro, who performs annually at the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s annual Valentine’s Dance, Noche de Ronda. “I’m happy that you selected me.”
Pro may love his tamales, but participants in the contest may have high expectations to meet when it comes to making tamales that meet standards set by his sister.
“We had a sister who made the best tamales anywhere,” recalled Pro. “The family just couldn’t wait for Sunday, that particular Sunday or Christmas to arrive because we were going to eat my sister’s tamales. Coincidentally, there is a place here in McAllen called Delia’s Tamales, which are very good, everybody raves about them. That was my sister’s name, Delia. Nobody made tamales like my sister Delia. We just couldn’t wait for Christmas or special holidays when she would make them. She had her own recipe. There was more meat than the masa. They were just incredible. To this day I haven’t really tasted anything like them.”
Pro, who is originally from Corpus Christi, has garnered much recognition with his musical group, Noe Pro and the Band, including first place for best song and best interpreter at the regional level in the Latin American OTI international song festival in 1983.
When asked about his preferences when it comes to tamales, Pro showed his taste for adventure.
“They’ve come up with some new things like cheese and chile, and I love those,” Pro explained. “Those are really good, and of course the traditional pork tamales, but the cheese and chile are like my favorites now.”
Also judging the tamale contest is Chris Tapia, managing partner for San Benito Funeral Home.
“I remember as a young kid growing up in San Antonio, my grandmother would make them (tamales), especially during the Christmas holidays,” Tapia recalled. “My memories of tamales are from when I was a little boy back home in San Antonio where my grandmother would make them. I wouldn’t get involved with the making of them, just the eating of them. I remember that she would make them really well.”
Tapia, who has approximately 25 years experience in funeral services, arrived in San Benito this October but is looking forward to lending his preferences when it comes to the annual community contest.
“I’ve never been asked to judge a tamal, but I am honored to do it,” Tapia said. “I’m glad that I was chosen and I’m sure that I’m going to have a good time enjoying the taste of each different tamal. It’s a privilege to be asked to do this, especially being new to this community. I’ve only been here since October, so to be asked to be part of this community, I welcome it.”
To join the contest, which is open to the public, bring one dozen of your best tamales to the News office, located on 356 N. Sam Houston Blvd. in San Benito, by noon on Friday, Dec. 13. Judging will begin shortly thereafter and a winner will be announced once the scores are tallied.
There is no entry fee for participating tamale makers.
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 winner.