When the Spanish introduced cooking fats to the New World, they revolutionized the whole concept of tamales. Today virtually all are filled with a mixture of masa and lard. Without the added fat the masa would be almost inedibly dense. I’d always wondered how the pre-Hispanic peoples could have made tamales without lard to lighten the dough. Insight came from Zoyla Mendoza, the inspired Valley Zapotec cook who has been my mentor in so many ways.
I had come to visit her