DELISH IN THE DESERT: While many home cooks are planning their seasonal masa-making -- something that takes some time and love, of course -- the Annual Indio International Tamale Festival is kindly whetting (and sating) our appetites on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5. If you've watched a food or travel channel on cable, you've likely seen a segment on this well-known festival; after all, the world's largest tamale was made there about a decade back (it was 40 feet long, if you and your stomach are wondering).
TWO DAYS, LOTS OF TAMALES: When you're a year shy of your 20th anniversary, as the Tamale Festival is in 2010, bet you've got things down. Like cooking up corn-husked goodness for thousands upon thousands of tamale buffs, year after year. Like putting on concerts and dance performances and other festival fun. Like holding eating contests and best tamale contests, too. It's a popular, well-attended festival, so we recommend reading about parking and possible stay-overs before making for the lovely Coachella Valley. And we've said it before: The valley is a stunner all year long, but the time just before winter is bewitching. Coolness and shadows and veins of snow on Jacinto. Add tamales and you are set.