There are few albums I would want to act as the backdrop to my life than Bahamas’ Earthones. The clapping bass provides a backbone to nod your head to, and liberated guitar sees no boundaries as Toronto’s Afie Jurvanen fingers carelessly dance across the fretboard. It is rich and interesting, but not commanding, unlike early funk that was written to unsettle and to move. Instead, Earthones was written to wash over you like a shower of roses, freeing you of stress and providing an immense sense of cool.
Tamales are the Mexican staple that seems to have never quite made it big in North America. That’s why learning to master gems like this excited me – it feels like an experience not yet bastardized by the influence of my kin, and instead like an untold foray back to the streets of Mexico. Unlike any other Mexican food I’ve made, this feels like a journey and not just an experience.
Tamales consist of cornhusks, a flour filling, and your choice of shredded chicken, pork, beef or lamb. Depending on where you live you’ll have to work hard to find corn husks – let the adventure of finding a traditional Mexican market give you motivation to look outside the grocery store. With a focus on sustainability, many Mexican markets will use corn husks discarded from other dishes of theirs. Masa flour is another key ingredient and a good one to keep in the cupboard if you are planning on experimenting with traditional Mexican tortillas.
Together, the food is constructed in an orthodox way. t’s like eating a California role for the first time - you know what all the ingredients are, but are a little confused about how they ended up the way you are. This allows the steam to avoid contact with the filling, cooking it but allowing it to remain light and airy. In the end, you get the excitement of opening your parcel of Mexican goodness, and biting into a simple, dusty, spicy treat of a meal.
Dusty, familiar but exciting, and with a suspended-in-time chic, Earthones and tamales go together like, well, Earthtones and tamales. They each take you along for a ride on a wave, not fast enough to break a sweat, but not slow enough to bore you, but engaging enough for you to enjoy every second of it. The spice and flare from both the food and album are so unique that they providing a refreshing invigoration, leaving you with a bounce in your step long after the experience is over.
A whiskey sour is the staccato to the tamale’s smooth melody. Introducing flavours of citrus, vanilla and caramel to an earthier canvas, it repatriates flavours typically seen in Mexican cuisine, and does so in a not-so-subtle shot in the arm. Or a timelier reference: the whiskey sour is the whip-crack CLAP after the band’s slow-burning strut on the album’s standout “So Free”.
The Recipe: Tamales
I cannot claim to have had any idea how to make these until reading the above article. My advice? Focus on the presentation. The food will taste good, guaranteed, if you follow the recipe at all closely. However, the presentation is what makes this meal. Ensure the tamale is wrapped properly and leverage the discarded corn husk for some stylistic flair.
The Drink: Whiskey Sour
Ingredients: 2.5 oz whiskey, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 egg white, 1tsp white sugar, 1 maraschino cherry, ice
Steps: Shake whiskey, lemon, egg white and sugar in a cocktail shaker. This is called a "dry shake" to mix the ingredients. Next, add the ice and shake again - this will ensure the cocktail is frothy and smooth. Strain into a glass and top with a cherry.