History Is Lunch: Anne Martin, “Delta Hot Tamales”

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On February 1, 2023, Anne Martin presented “Delta Hot Tamales: History and Stories” as part of the History Is Lunch series.

The origin of the Delta hot tamale may be shrouded in mystery—does it trace back to Mexican immigrants, did it develop from older African traditions, or are its roots in the foodways of the region’s Native people? But no one can dispute the tamale’s popularity.

“Whether served on paper plates at red-and-white checkered vinyl-covered tables or silver platters at fancy dinner parties, the hot tamale has found a firm put in Mississippi cuisine,” said Martin, author of the book Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes. “From hot tamale legends Joe Pope, Shine Thornton, and the Scott family to current chefs, the traditions and the secret recipes live on.”

Anne Martin grew up eating hot tamales in her hometown of Greenville and has long been curious about the origins of the food. She spent thirty years as a television news anchor and reporter. Martin currently writes for such magazines as Delta and Life in the Delta and has published in Eat.Drink.Mississippi and The Sip. She is at work on a book about the 1927 Mississippi River Flood.

History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state’s past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

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