Wow, yesterday felt like one of the L O N G E S T days of my life, yet it went by SO QUICKLY. This was the first time I wrote the work schedule for our two crazy days. Gilberto and I went in at 1:30am and the drunk, LOUD fools coming out of Mexicali Rose were just as obnoxious as ever. Renee had turned on the ovens at 11pm Friday so we could get a jump start with the first load of tamales. So the first half hour was a blur, Gil and I had to pull out 24 trays (each holding about 3 dozen tamales), then reload the ovens, continue by making 6packs to sell in these boxes called Bio-Pack. They look like larger, flatter Chinese food box and can be a pain to work with since you don't want tamale juice on the outside. So, we work in 130 minute cycles: unload, reload, pack, repeat. We did the first two loads by ourselves but then reinforcements came in every couple hours after that. Things were going well except for when I threw my back out around 7am. POP a painkiller, stretch a bit...the show must go on! Our regular crew, some of their children who work as runners and clean up for a couple of days, and one of my fave Yelpers, Steven G VOLUNTEERS to help out. Like for reals, he has just a great personality and spirit, asks if I'm sure I only want him to work 8am to noon. I say to him, "How about we start there and play it by ear"...the novices are so cute, they have no idea what they are getting themselves into! (to read more from him, http://www.steven-g.com/)
All of the sudden it's time to open, 9am came around so quickly. Customers lined up at the front door ready to pick up tamales, masa and other Mexican treats. I switch to working my tamale corner that takes up the rear dining area. Familiar faces as well a new people walk up to me prepared with their customer numbers to look up the order the placed weeks and days before. Before I know it, hours are ticking by like minutes, so many customers, SO MANY TAMALES. I bop by the grocery dept to see how things are going with Mami and Sweet Bratty Niece. So far, so good and everyone is leaving happy. "Mis Ninas", the "girls" who staff our restaurant are making plates, burritos and making sure peeps who need sides for for holiday meals are all set. I check the messages on our main voice mail and on my cell phone (it's the tamaleline for questions and changes on tamale pre orders) fix things and confirm changes.
Around 2pm, I decide I'm going to try to head out...mush mind is settling in. You know how the saying goes, "The lights are on, but nobody's home"...my mind is not lost but just not working anymore! I finally make out the front door at 3pm, ok, it's been 13 1/2 at La Borinquena but now I got to make it up the stairs in the TALL and winding staircase in my home to make it to my bed! I make it and a two hour nap later, I feel human again. Gil, SBN along with Gracie B head out to Chinatown because I NEED Honey Walnut Prawns and a tapioca drink...I don't want no stinkin' tamales for dinner! Later, we hang in my kitchen drinking Screamin' Lise's (limade, sparkling water and vanilla vodka), minus the screamin' for Sweet Bratty Niece (she's only 17). I got a really good night's sleep and here I am seeing another day. We close on Sundays, always, so no customers today. Gil and I have to reload the ovens before we nap tonight, Renee will fire things up again at 11pm, Gilbeto and I will be there again at 1:30am.
Unload, Reload, Pack, REPEAT...so goes another day in Tamale World.