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June 21, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Centro Latino de Salud, an organization in Columbia that offers services to the Latino community, paired up with Main Squeeze to create a Mexican dish that doubles as a fundraiser.
Since March, Main Squeeze has had tamales on its menu every Tuesday. Eduardo Crespi, the executive director of Centro Latino, makes the tamales and sells them to Main Squeeze owner Leigh Lockhart each month for $500.
Where: Main Squeeze, 29 S. Ninth St.
Cost: $8.75 for one; $ for six
Each tamale is filled with kale, spinach, roasted peppers and vegan chicken, a wheat gluten-based product that simulates poultry. The meal, which is served with a side of organic brown rice and organic beans, is completed with a refreshing homemade pico de gallo. Customers can also get tamales to go — they can easily be reheated at home in the microwave or by steaming.
The vegan tamales at Main Squeeze are different from tamales made with beef, Lockhart says. Maseca, a corn-based dough, is the only traditional thing about them. Maseca provides a soft and chewy texture, and the vegan chicken tastes almost like the real thing. The beans and rice complement each other for a wholesome flavor.
“I told Eduardo today I was amazed,” Lockhart says. “We sold all out of them. They are super popular.”
Lockhart started Tamale Tuesdays because she wanted to steer Main Squeeze toward doing service. Centro Latino’s mission of providing health care, education and cultural resources to the Latino community sparked Lockhart’s interest, and she knew it was the perfect place to start.
If things continue to go well, Lockhart says she is hopeful that tamales can become more than a Tuesday tradition.