Guatemalan Cuisine: Pache

Guatemalan Cuisine: Pache, originally uploaded by rudygiron.

Tamales are an ancient American food, made throughout the continent for over 5000 years. How about that for trivia, thanks to Wikipedia. There are so many kinds of tamales that if one was to try one per day, it would take you over twenty years to try all the different kinds. That is right, I said twenty years. In Guatemala alone, there must be 100 different kinds if not more. Tamales are usually made with a cooked masa (maize dough), tomato sauce, and a piece of meat; normally pork, chicken, turkey, all wrap around in husks or banana leaves. When I say tomato sauce, I am being over-simplistic since this tomato-based sauce could be as difficult to make as an Indian curry, if not more.

Here I bring to you a very special kind of tamale made with potato dough instead of maize. It is called pache (short) and it is made in all other respects the same way as tamales. In Guatemala, paches are usually sold on Thursdays, I don’t know why, and “normal” maize tamales are sold on Saturdays, although if you know your way around you any kind of tamale any day you like.

You should read the overview entry of tamales in Wikipedia to get a feel for it. I should mention that I think the entry for tamales is very short and it should not. I will research more about the subject and I will update the Wikipedia with my findings.

© 2006 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • tamales from different countries are very different. the mexican people here make a different tamale than the people here who are from Guatemala. the mexicans wrap their tamale in corn husk and the Guatemalan in a banana leaf. there are other difference also.probably determined from what area they came from.

  • I can’t tell you how much I miss paches… In my opinion the best ones came from the old lady in the back of the tienda across from La Merced…

  • Absolutely mouthwatering! These food posts of yours are so delectably wonderful!

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    • blarney

      actually, Guatemalans make Mexican tamales too, they just call them chuchitos…..chuchitos are much more common that tamales. Every bus stop you’ll see women selling chuchitos……..tamales however, are usually made one day a week or on holidays. Also, in the indigenous areas, tamalitos are eaten with nearly every meal, instead of tortillas.

      • Ediporex08

        chuchitos have nothing in common with mexican tamales except for the corn husk wrapping.

        • You’re right, they’re similar, but not the same.

          El 17/03/2012, a las 12:56, Disqus

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          Ediporex08 (unregistered) wrote, in response to blarney (unregistered):

          chuchitos have nothing in common with mexican tamales except for the corn husk wrapping.

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  • Lindsey

    I love Paches! They were always my favorite tamale.

  • Monica

    does anyone have the recipe for Paches? Rudy you are killing me!

    • @Mónica, just wait I am already working in a new web site of Guatemalan recipes… it will be in English and Spanish. Stay tune!

  • chatita

    Paches are the greatest of all the guatemalan tamales. I am not from Guatemala but my mother and husband are. My husband’s family introduced me to the paches ever since then I love them. I would love to get the recipe. Please!!!!!!!

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  • CathyB

    Recipies, please!  Not only are there very few cookbooks available, but even the WWW offering is very sparse.

    • CathyB, there are many recipes through out the website, you just have to look for them. Browse the Food & Drinks category to find them.

  • portillo

    Paches are delicious. One of my favorite tamales for the holidays 🙂

  • Pearl Wishney

    Hola Rudy- Do you have a website in English and Spanish with Guatemalan recipes. What is it called? I would love a recipe for Paches in English. They are delicious.

    • Sorry Pearl, I never did find the time to launch the recipe websites. I had the domains for a quite a while, but gave up on the concept for lack of time.