“You do that better than your sisters, Gabe,” Mom says to me as I
spread the corn masa on the soaked husk and spoon the right amount of
shredded spiced beef onto it. The aroma of meat braised in a sauce of
chiles, garlic, bay, pepper, and cloves makes every breath feel like
Christmas. My stomach growls softly in a tiny fit of impatient hunger.
It’s the first time I’ve been actually allowed to help with the
tamales since . . . well, since a long time. My sisters are good
cooks, too, so Mom’s praise isn’t cheap. “They always overstuff them.”
I wrap up the tamal and try not to smile too much, but Mom ignores my
pride anyway. She doesn’t want me getting too cocky. This is women’s
work she’s letting me do, and she thinks it wouldn’t be good for me to
be too proud about it. I think she forgets sometimes, but I _am_ a boy
Because of that, I probably shouldn’t be standing there in her
daisy-yellow kitchen learning how to make tamales properly, but Dad
isn’t home right now and my brothers aren’t going to notice so long as
the food’s good.
It will be. Mom’s cooking is still the best.