#TeamBLV catches up with Sofia Perez, a young woman that has been fundraising in order to cover the expense to participate in our service program in Cuba. Sofia and her entire family cooked, sold, and delivered 200 dozen tamales – that’s quite a feat!
The scoop from Sofia below:
#TeamBLV catches up with Marysol Perez, the proud mother of 14 year old Sofia, a program participant that has been fundraising in order to cover the expense to participate in our service program in Cuba. Marysol and the entire family made and sold 200 dozen tamales – that’s quite a feat! We sat down and asked to get the scoop on their recent fundraising success!
BLV: Tell us about the fundraiser and how you assisted with the project.
MP: This time of year is actually the perfect time for making tamales; because the weather is cooler and the holidays are upon us. This project was made possible by the help and tremendous support of family and friends; we are a very tight knit traditional Mexican family. So when Sofia let the family know she was participating in a service trip to Cuba with BLV and needed to raise funds for the trip in March the family all jumped in and said “TAMALIZA”! Our goal was to sell 50-75 dozens, at least cover 50% of the cost of the service trip, we were not expecting the turnout we had.
We knew we had a very busy schedule coming up with Sofia; school, social events, athletics, vacations, etc. We decided that the weekend of November 9-11 would be best, since we were all available and it was a 3-day weekend, when I say all available I am referring to; my mom, my two aunts, my husband, Sofia and I. My sister was out of town that weekend but she contributed towards the purchase of supplies. My mom also contributed towards supplies and provided her kitchen and command central; her home is our family hub anyways, she also enlisted the help of her two girlfriends and neighbor; my cousin that lives two hours away surprised us and showed up to help.
We are actually quite organized when it comes to the tamale making process, this isn’t our first rodeo with the mass production of them; four years ago my husband volunteered our family to make tamales as a fundraiser to benefit a coworkers chronically ill child; we made 150 dozens that time, but in the span of 2 weekends.
In our family tamale making is no joke!
In our family you earn the task you are allowed to do, in the tamale making process. My mom, known in the family as “Yaya” is our leader when it comes to the Mexican kitchen and your tasks is assigned by her; she being the leader does it ALL. So in the tamale making process my aunt Lili and I are in charge of spreading the masa on the corn husks, my aunt Cecilia fills the tamales with the meat and Sofia wraps the tamales. Sofia was also in charge of cleaning and soaking the corn husks, as well as packaging the dozens. No one was left without a task.
We used my mom’s stove as well as a Camp Chef 3 burner outdoor stove to cook the tamales, had about 7 huge steamers going at different times, one of them was a triple decker and held about 8 dozens per level, that was our favorite steamer!
BLV: How much masa does it take to make 200 dozen tamales?
MP: Ahhh- the masa…If you know anything about tamales, you know that the masa is the most important part of the tamale, you have to get the masa right! This is an estimate based on the bags of masa flour and supplies, to give you a glimpse of the process; we purchased about 20 5lb bags = 100 lbs of just masa flour (unprepared) once you prep it, with the stock, fat, salt, baking powder etc. I would say 250 lbs of masa was prepared for our tamales.
BLV: Did people pre-order? How did you deliver the tamales?
MP: Yes all orders were pre-ordered, though we kept on receiving orders as we were making them. To be honest I was quite nervous because I felt I didn’t announce the fundraiser to friends and family with a lot of time; I believe I personally gave my contacts a 2 day notice. My mom, aunt, and cousin also shared fundraiser details with their contacts. Sofia emailed teachers (past and present), and told friends, one of the teachers she emailed took it upon herself and told Sofia she would forward her email to the staff at the Junior High. The staff there was very supportive and delighted to hear Sofia was embarking on this journey.
I’ve got to give credit to my husband Daniel, he actually spearheaded the fundraiser for us. He works at the local hospital; in the surgery department and started spreading the word; they had been waiting for this day! One of his coworkers really stepped in and assisted him in taking orders; his department alone placed 80+ dozens of tamales. The first day he texted me I’ve got 48 orders, then another 9 and then another 12 and so on.
We delivered tamales starting Sunday, my husband picked up a huge batch – his departments orders, and texted people he knew that he could deliver in that moment if needed. We had tamales stored in multiple refrigerators… five (5) to be exact. Our orders came as far north as Red Bluff, CA and down to the Central Valley in Merced, CA a span of 245 miles.
Sofia and I spent Monday, November 11th delivering tamales to local friends in Chico. We also took 2 trips to my husbands workplace; delivering the a.m. crew order and then in the evening to deliver the p.m. crew order. The next day I delivered to my workplace and to the middle school.
The whole experience was very gratifying, we were overwhelmed with the amount of support we received from everyone that supported the Tamale Fundraiser. The most rewarding part was the experience of togetherness; family and culture that Sofia gained from participating in her fundraiser, she was in it the whole time. I am still receiving messages from people saying how much they enjoyed the tamales, that they were the best they ever tasted. They tell me they could tell they were made with love… which they were!
BLV: Would you share your tamale recipes with us to share publicly? You will be given credit.
MP: I would have to ask the family matriarch for that one – my mother; she has never kept a recipe for anything, takes after my grandmother, it’s sacrilegious to use recipes, in the Mojica-Barajas household.
BLV: What do you hope that Sofia will gain from this global service learning program?
I just want her to experience the world and appreciate other cultures.She is our wanderlust, she has the travel bug, loves visiting new places and meeting new people. Both my husband and I want her to learn, appreciate and most importantly respect other cultures. I also believe it will be an excellent opportunity for her to challenge herself and use her Spanish speaking abilities. Spanish was Sofia’s first language growing up until kindergarten, she lost her confidence in speaking it along the way. Being in a Spanish speaking country by herself, will push her to use her Spanish.