It wouldn't be Christmas without tamales, and this year's Taste of Tamales Food Festival puts hungry tamale maniacs in the perfect place to enjoy them: El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Tamales — stuffed with meat, cheese, chiles and masa dough, all bundled up in a steamed leaf wrapper — were pioneered by the Mayans and today are celebrated here by tens of thousands of people eating, listening to music and watching the generous spectacle of 10,000 free gifts being given to the kiddies on hand (first come, first served). Today's hours of epicurean ecstasy include pork, cheese and jalapeño tamales from Mexico, vegan and red sauce varieties from Nicaragua, chocolate atole and green sauce delights from El Salvador, chicken and sweet corn masterpieces from South America, and the beef and chicken supremacy of Central America. And just in case you were shy about delving deeply into tamale consciousness — you don't really have to eat the wrapper. Placita Olvera, Main Street & Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, dwntwn.; Sun., Dec. 15, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (818) 734-2701,

Sun., Dec. 15, 10 a.m., 2013

LA Weekly