For the past few years I have dreamed of teaching people how cook Guatemalan food in their own homes. Not too long ago I got one step closer to reaching that dream as I got together with two friends, Jackie Church and Heather Atwood, and taught them how to make Mama Necas Tamales. Jackie and I (and my two dogs) drove up to Heathers house in Rockport since she has the perfect kitchen for teaching a cooking class and for filming cooking segments (which she does). It was a picture perfect day in Rockport and even though the outdoors was calling us to grab a drink and relax on her front porch, we persevered and went to work making tamales. Of course the first order of business was making some rosa de jamaica to which we added a splash of tequila. As everyone is well aware when three friends get together, it is hard to stay focused on why they got together to begin with. We all pulled out the recipes that I had snuggled away in sheet protectors and set to work getting the chicken simmering on the stove. Our next task was to get the ingredients for the sauce cooking. Jackie set her sights on roasting the pepitas and sesame seeds, as heather and worked on chopping up and cooking the vegetables for it. Once these two recipes were done we had a brief interlude while Jackie had a photo shoot with the chicken, the sauce and the banana leaves that we would wrap our tamales in. While Jackie was in the studio (literally) shooting photos, Heather and I set upon gathering all the ingredients together to go in the tamales, olives, capers and red bell pepper. Once the masa was made we needed to assemble the tamales pretty quick before it dried out. With the banana leaves returned from their photo shoot, we trimmed and cut them into pieces and layered them with sheets of aluminum foil. With that done it was time to make the masa! I was so excited to have help with this step of the tamale making process. Usually it is just I and my arm just about falls off with the constant stirring of the masa for close to 30 minutes. With two other people we could switch off and not get exhausted. With the masa ready we assembled our tamales chatting the whole time about other foods, work and combining the two successfully. There is the slight possibility that one tamale was missing sauce. Placing the tamales in the pot and covering with water we set them on the stove to cook for 90 minutes. What to do until then? Now was the time to relax on the front porch and watch the dogs race around the yard. After an hour or so we began to wonder how long the tamales had been cooking and we realized they were probably done. In to the house we went to gather everything together to sit down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. As we unwrapped the tamales we all oohed and aahed at these things of beauty encased in banana leaves and the aroma beckoned us to hurry and sit down to eat. The table was quiet as we enjoyed Mama Necas tamales, which I have been told is a good thing. The quiet means everyone is eating instead of talking. I anxiously awaited everyone’s review of the tamales…..which ended up being a unanimous two thumbs up, with everyone going back for seconds (always a good sign!). By the time we had finished dinner it was fairly late and Anna and Nala were already asleep in the car. Thankfully Heathers husband David snuck in to the kitchen and began cleaning up our mess. Not one inch of her kitchen was free from our tamale making. What pots and tools I had brought with me, I just stacked in the car and would wash them at home in the morning. We could revel in the smell of tamales all the way home. Exhausted and with full bellies Jackie and I headed back to Boston where our beds beckoned us after a fun and rewarding day of my first ever Tamale 101 class. The next day I awoke to tweets proclaiming that the class was a success and that Jackie’s husband loved his tamale. We did manage to save him one so he could see why his wife was gone almost all day.