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El Pasoans struggle to get their tamal fix ahead of Christmas

EL PASO, Texas -- Tamales play an important part in our El Paso holiday traditions. This year, there seems to be a shortage of this Mexican delicacy.

The high demand for tamales has been overwhelming for both customers and vendors. Pepe's tamales on Viscount, for example, has a big "sold out" sign outside and another one that says they won't open back until Dec. 27.

Gussie's on Piedras has some of the most popular tamales in the city. The owner says they've been impacted by supply shortages along with rising prices. Limited staff is also a factor. Tamale-lovers could wait up to 3 hours in line to get just a dozen.

"Right now, there's a long line, man. There's like a 3 to 4-hour wait right now so I didn't wanna wait that long." a customer said as he walked to his car.

Another customer who was willing to wait said, "These tamales here are famous here in El Paso. They're delicious and it's not a problem to wait in line: 1, 2, 3 hours if you have to, to get them."

Since big tamale vendors are struggling to serve the usual amount of customers this year, what does this mean for people who sell tamales out of their kitchen?

An independent seasonal vendor said her sales this year have not fluctuated because of supply issues. She, says she hasn't had trouble finding ingredients for her tamales. However, she did say she's noticed higher prices, which makes her orders about 2 to 3 dollars more expensive than last year.

This vendor also offers classes for people who want to learn how to make their own tamales.

"A week ago that I gave a class; it was sold out. And people still wanted to pay, you know, to take the class. So I might have to schedule another for another date," she said.

El Paso Public Health Director Angela Mora says they understand buying tamales from unlicensed street vendors is common. While she advises against it, she also left has advice in case you do go with an independent vendor.

"That they ensure the tamales are very hot or they are very cold, because that way they know that they are either refrigerated or that they are high in degree of temperature," Mora said.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

Emmanuel Esparza

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