If you want to start a good argument at a family gathering in the Delta, just bring up hot tamales and watch everyone go at it over where to get the best. This came up over the 4th of July and the only thing that everyone could agree on was that the corn shuck variety are better than paper-wrapped tamales any day. Nobody would claim Doe’s tamales as their favorites – which is surprising since they are known as “the best” in some circles. It was the paper wrapping Doe’s tamales have that was the hang-up, not the taste.
I love to go to Doe’s and I can’t go without getting an order of tamales, but I still think the best tamales in the world were out of a coffee can a lady delivered to my mother-in-law’s house in Greenwood. My husband loved them and I got over my fear that they weren’t prepared in a kitchen up to health department standards. That’s one thing I love about Doe’s – it’s as authentic as it was back when the front room was a neighborhood honky tonk. It’s a little grungy, but you get over it once you taste the food!
Just walking through the front door at Doe’s while stepping over a lazy cat, seeing the meat cooking in that big oven, then traipsing through the kitchen as the big bowl of salad is being tossed, makes me a happy girl! The smells are unbelievably good – a little garlic and a lot of fried-up something.
I like their shrimp better than the steak but what I love most is seeing the tamales being pulled out of that big silver pot on the stove right in front of my table. Tamales are best served with Lance crackers – the really crisp kind. I’ve seen people eat them with ketchup, chili, eggs, ranch dressing or a slice of hoop cheese. Any way you serve them is fine with me.
Doe’s has been serving locals and celebrity’s alike since 1941. I figure their tamales have pleased plenty of people during those years, paper-wrapping and all! I’m sure the debate over the best tamales in the Delta is one that will continue, but when I’m at Doe’s in Greenville, they are at the top of my list!
P.S. Bud’s classmate David Fleming shared this picture of a pot of tamales he cooked up recently. He learned his technique at Viking Cooking School, but I’m sure he developed his taste for them in Greenwood when he was growing up!
http://tamaletrail.blogspot.com/ — Southern Foodways has a great blog on the Tamale Trail. Check it out for great stories and more info on the best tamales in the Delta!
http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/05/19/a-flood-of-memories-for-landmark-mississippi-restaurant-does-eat-place/ — a great story about Doe’s and the great flood.