Tamale

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A tamale or tamal (Spanish: tamal, from Nahuatl: tamalli)[1] is a traditional Latin American dish made of masa (a starchy dough, often corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating. Tamales can be further filled with meats, cheese, vegetables, chilies or any preparation according to taste, and both the filling and the cooking liquid may be seasoned.

Tamales were one of the staples found by the Spanish Conquistadors when they first arrived in Mexico and were soon widely spread throughout their other colonies. Tamales are said to have been as ubiquitous and varied as the sandwich is today.[citation needed]

Tamales originated in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BCE.[1] Aztec and Maya civilizations as well as the Olmeca and Tolteneca before them used tamales as a portable food, often to support their armies but also for hunters and travelers. There have also been reports of tamal use in the Inca Empire long before the Spanish visited the new world.[1]

The diversity of native languages in Mesoamerica led to a number of local words for the tamal, many of which remain in use.

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