She's the Hot Tamale Mama, dubbed so for her gourmet take-home dinner business.
And as the Hot Tamale Mama, Pam Warner takes her culinary direction from the cultures settling around the Lower Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.
Her hot tamale creation, as with others who share the tamale business, is an arduous process – assembling, tying and stacking each tamale (Delta tamales keep the –e ending even when singular, as opposed to the Spanish tamal) individually before cooking. Tamale restaurants opened by families from Greenville, Mississippi, to Helena, Arkansas, added to an already rich culinary tradition throughout the Delta.
These traditions became part of south Louisiana’s culinary story, too.
“I call them memory meals. Things like tamales, chicken pot pies, cheese grits. We would pick up tamales as a family to take home and eat, and pot pies remind me of family reunions in Mississippi,” Warner says. “My cheese grits recipe is an old New Orleans recipe from an early 1970s River Road cookbook. I actually had to lighten it up because it had so much cheese, butter and cream but that’s New Orleans.”