Tamales and mascaradas are on the weekend menu

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Tamal lovers generally eat them with chiles or a

The tamal season is in the air, and Aserrí will start the holiday tradition this weekend with a fair devoted to the typical Central American dish.

Costa Rican households around the country annually decorate their Christmas table with the maize-based course. It is presented wrapped in a plantain or banana leaf held together by a tied string. Inside is a gift of meat, garbanzo beans and rice.

To eliminate the preliminaries, both the leaf and masa or dough can be bought pre-made in local markets. For those who would rather buy them completely prepared, or who just want to get the treat early, this Feria del Tamal gives the opportunity to buy tamales in the country’s tamal capital.

This is the eighth edition of the event which is formally called Expoferia Turística del Tamal Aserrí 2012. Activities will take place in the heart of Aserrí Centro around the community park. The canton is south of San José.

Keeping up with the recent festival spirit, patrons can enjoy concerts and buy handicrafts, tamales, and other traditional foods. At night, fireworks will design the sky.

Sunday the city will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Encuentro Nacional de Mascaradas. Representatives from Heredia, Asserí, Desamparados, and Alajuelita will dress in masks and parade from the south side of Cementerio de Aserrí. They will be accompanied by more than 20 cimarrona groups or small musical bands.

Organizers explained that the purpose of the event is to highlight the natural, touristic and cultural beauty of the community. “This allows us, the Asociación Cívico Cultural Aqueserri, to continue to promote Aserrí as a tourist destination and as tamales-producing area,” said Carlos Solís, a member of Aqueserri.

To keep the event eco-friendly, the Comité Bandera Azul de Aserrí will collect recyclable waste such as plastic and tamal leaves. Later the organic trash will be composted and turned to fertilizer, Solís said.

The fair begins Friday and ends Sunday.

There will be two Sunday masquerades, one of the traditional diana or reveille accompanied by cimarronas at 4 a.m and another at 11 a.m.

The Encuentro Nacional de Mascaradas is an effort to maintain the culture of the masks in the face of Halloween imports from the north. The mascaradas date to the Colonial era and probably before. The papier mâché giant heads are modeled after traditional characters and sometimes current politicians or public figures.

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