Tamale Tradition

La Popular honors New Year's tradition with signature tamale flavor

La Popular honors New Year's tradition with signature tamale flavor

La Popular black eyed pea tamales
Black eyed pea tamales are a seasonal item at La Popular Tamale House. Photo courtesy of La Popular

Barely taking a breath after its busiest day of the year, La Popular Tamale House unrolls its New Year's specialty: a limited-edition tamale filled with black-eyed peas.

For the filling, the black-eyed peas are sautéed with onion and bell pepper — a combination that owner Jesse Moreno says makes the tamale vegan-friendly, i.e., no animal ingredients at all.

The novel filling cleverly capitalizes on the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's as a way to bring good luck for the coming year, along with greens and cornbread. Black-eyed peas grow during the winter.

The Mexican takeout shop is coming off the annual Christmas rush, when it does 70 percent of its annual business, selling tamales for the traditional Christmas Eve consumption. They were open on Christmas Day, as well. But their business does not end with Christmas, Moreno says.

"Christmas Eve is definitely the busiest, but New Year's Eve is our second-busiest day," he says.

In 2014, he observed some surprising purchase trends.

"Pork remains the most popular flavor, but I was shocked to see the increasing popularity of chicken, which has become a close second," he says. "And then we've continued to see a growing popularity of veggie options. We do bean-and-jalapeño and mixed vegetable, and this year, we had to stop taking orders because we ran out."

The black-eyed pea tamales are $11.95 a dozen and will be available through New Year's Day, until supplies run out.