Sweet Corn Tamales from Trader Joe

Trader Joe's Sweet Corn Tamales

I was offered a job a few weeks back. It’s more convenient, less stressful, pays much better, and is closer to my home. These are all positive things. This is not to say the environment isn’t unique. If you walk in, the first thing that you will notice is the huge indoor walk-thru Arboretum. You can also see the small pond with picnic tables surrounding it if you look to the side. It’s quite lovely. The cafe has a decent selection of sandwiches made to order and other goodies. I didn’t have that at my previous job, not even the cafe. A vending machine was the only way to get a sandwich. This was at a state-of the-art, flagship facility. And their microwaves were horrible. My new job has the exact same microwave as mine, and it’s great. It’s almost comical what they don’t have. My morning routine is disrupted by the absence of a hot water tap or sink in any of the break rooms. French PressThe task of making coffee is more difficult. They don’t even own a freezer to store frozen meals. There’s none. The fridge keeps most lunches cold until lunch. If they have enough indoor trees to upkeep once a week and a pond, then surely there would be a freezer. Perhaps that’s just me.

All this is because, no matter where I work or what my schedule looks like, lunch must be eaten. For the longest time, Trader Joe’s tamales have been a staple in my afternoon feasting. They are easy to make, inexpensive and delicious, as Nathan mentioned a while back. Sweet Corn Tamales are now available in Pittsburgh. They’re a great alternative to beef, chicken and cheese.

They’re…okay. They’re not great, but they’re okay. It’s not clear if the tamales or my workplace’s inability to freeze them are to blame. However, they have a strange texture at best. The masa is definitely different than other types. I can tell the difference by its lighter color and slightly soggier texture before tasting it. A lot of people shared their experience on Facebook that they should always place a moist towel over the masa before nuking to avoid drying them out. Because it’s difficult to get to a bathroom at work, I chose not to do so. However, three minutes in the microwave and they are still very soggy. I’ll take the blame.

The corn masa exterior is delicious and tastes just like sweet cornbread. The inside contains a decent amount of sweetened corn and little green chilies. The chiles add very little heat and the manchega (which is mild enough) isn’t as prominent. These tamales are essentially sweet cornbread. You could make them even more delicious with some queso maestre and slightly spicier chilies. They will make my semi-regular lunch rotation. However, I believe that they are more likely to be there because of TJ’s small and inexpensive lunchworthy entrees.

Sandy doesn’t like tamales that are primarily based on texture. We have been to Mexico, and we have had authentic tamales. But even so, the masa shell makes Sandy gag. In fairness, and to avoid unilateral Golden Spoonage, I asked our Facebook friends what they thought. The results were mixed. There were a few amorous comments (“I love these!”) to more serious ones. Lindsey said that she eats them every day and they are delicious. Kristine) to express contempt (“I love Tamales…these disappointed on all fronts,” says Karen), with the majority of people in the middle. Peeps gave them an average score of 2.5-3, which seems to be about right. While I don’t mind them at all, I find the cheese and chicken versions to be much more appealing. It’s a 2.5- or 3-star rating from me.      

Bottom line: Trader Joe’s Sweet Corn Tamales are rated 5.5 out 10 Golden Spoons
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P.S. P.S. These are my favorites. It will be added to my next purchase.