Deciding what to do in December in the Palm Springs Valley is easy when you remember that the first weekend of this holiday month starts off with the amazing Annual Indio Tamale Festival, a short drive from my abode in Rancho Mirage. And there is no denying it, Diana Dodge loves the delicious delicacies of the tamale world almost as much as…well, I can’t divulge ALL of my secrets!
Celebrating its 20th year of taking tasty tamales to the masses—160,000 strong this year!—the festival is the ultimate in family fun. Taking place in downtown Indio on a multi-block square with four entertainment stages offering a wide selection of Latino music and dance, all manner of kid-friendly activities such as bouncy houses and slides, a petting zoo, and a selection of carnival rides for toddlers to totally grown-up kids of all ages, there is something to occupy the imagination of even the most blasé among your brood.
But nothing is more important on this weekend than the main event: tamales. Amidst the hundreds of booths offering everything from baby tees to fried you-name-it, the scores of tamale vendors from far and wide are the real stars of this affair. My pal Paul and I started off with two traditional types, splitting in half and sharing a green chile & cheese and a spicy chicken. Yum on both. We then moved on to some gourmet fare, skipping the one stuffed with brie and opting for a poblano & corn and a pork & green chile. After strolling, shopping, and listening to great music (maybe a margarita was consumed!), we opted for one more—a tantalizing beef tamale—before heading back to the car with a churro in hand to end with a sweet finish.
I certainly can’t eat like that every single day, but on my trek toward Tannenbaum, it’s time to treat myself to the tastiest tamales in town at the Indio Tamale Festival.