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Fronteras: UTSA Special Collections Highlights Mexican Spirits; Demand For Tamales In A Pandemic Surges During The Holidays

Two unique recipes for horchata.
Two unique recipes for horchata.

Mexican Spirits Expand Growing Mexican Cookbook Collection At UTSA

The coming of a new year is traditionally marked with a bubbly beverage. Instead of that sip of champagne, perhaps try something with more history and tradition. The University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections hosts some traditional Mexican recipes for drinks dating back centuries.

The Mexican Spirits Collection is part of a growing Mexican Cookbook Collection at UTSA that contains more than 2,000 volumes dating from 1789 to the present. It’s a collection that’s studied by researchers, chefs and curious community members.

Amy Rushing, Assistant Dean for Special Collections at UTSA Libraries, said the recipes dating back hundreds of years are preserved in a temperature and humidity controlled vault dedicated to archival material.

“It's fun to watch a collection like this grow because with the Mexican Cookbook Collection,” explained Rushing, “it is so deep and so wide and it spans such a long time period that you really do get to see a story unfold.”

UTSA Libraries Special Collections launched “Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus” to make the recipe collections more accessible with downloadable files.

Customers line up outside Lupita's Tamales in El Paso. The restaurant has been making tamales for 35 years.
Angela Kocherga | KTEP
Customers line up outside Lupita's Tamales in El Paso. The restaurant has been making tamales for 35 years.

Tamales In The Time Of COVID

Current restrictions on family gatherings have put a halt to in-person tamaladas, when friends and family would get together and divvy up tamal-making tasks, like making the masa or filling the hoja.

KTEP's Angela Kocherga explored how the pandemic has resulted in a boom to the commercial tamal trade in El Paso.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1
Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter at @terrazas_lauren