On my last trip back to Guatemala to see family, I wanted to shoot a small photo project. I was inspired by my dad’s postings about his adventures while out on his guided tours, or motorcycle outings with my mom. I wanted to take advantage of his ability to make friends with anyone anywhere to find someone interesting to document. The day before I arrived my parents happened to meet Doña Adela at La Terminal market in the city, while buying tamales. We went back after I arrived and stopped by her stand to get to know her a bit. She was set up near an entrance, fanning a grill with some chuchitos, narrowly escaping the sun under a parasol. We introduced ourselves and the project. She was very friendly and open to the idea.
Fast forward a couple of weeks later and we are at her home in Sumpango some 45 minutes out of town. We were welcomed by her daughters Liliana and Roselia who usually start the process while Doña Adela is at the market. She usually leaves around 4:30am to make the hour and a half commute and comes back once she has sold out her product, making it home around 4pm. In the meantime, Liliana and Roselia prepare the masa (dough), recado (sauce) and meat that will go inside the chuchitos. They also make tamales but today they would be preparing chuchitos and tamalitos de chipilín.
They usually prepare around 150-200 chuchitos, and 100 tamales for Saturdays. They prepare everything from scratch, even grinding their own corn with their small mill. They also use it to puree their tomatoes for the recado, which has to simmer until it thickens and develops a deep flavor. They also wash the corn husks and maxán leaf to wrap the chuchitos and tamalitos de chipilín in for cooking.
On their rooftop shed, with the dough prepared, they all begin to put together the chuchitos to cook. At this time Doña Adelas daughter Miriam joins in as well to help. They pop them into a steaming woodfire pot until ready.
In the end we had a really great time and learned a lot. Although unfortunately we had to leave the country the next day, my dad later went back with some printed photos. We also took some photos together on their rooftop, and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos of their pets and Doña Adelas granddaughter Magaly.
I hope you enjoyed the photos and learned a little bit about Guatemala!