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Road trip to Delta means tamales

Standing amongst a very excited Bruce football team on the incredibly dark sidelines of Okolona’s new field as the Trojans were leaping into the air, yelling and celebrating as they watched 5’8”, 155 pound defensive back Trent Hall pull in an interception and race down the field for the end zone for a game changing, ultimately game-winning play, I must acknowledge my first thought wasn’t playoffs.

True, Trent’s exciting play turned the Trojans’ fate and threw them into the postseason, but my first thought was – tamales.

If there was a brief moment where I might have been shamed into some guilt for that thought, it was vanquished when Dr. Bruce Longest turned to me seconds later and said simply, “Delta.”

This Friday night, Dr. Longest and I, likely with a few more in the vehicle, will travel with the Trojans to West Bolivar for the first round playoff game. We will leave slightly earlier than the team because we always have a few stops to make on these road trips along the Mississippi Tamale Trail.

Last week, my wife Lisa and I were in Natchez for a Mississippi Press Association Board of Directors meeting at the historic Dunleith Inn that dates back to the 1850s. We made it a point one night to slip down the road to Fat Mama’s for some of their fabulous hot tamales and a couple of “Knock-You-Naked” Margaritas.

Fat Mama’s tamales, doused with their homemade hot sauce, are in my top five of Mississippi tamales. Jimmy and Britton Gammill started Fat Mama’s in the 1980s and their family has kept the tradition going, making it a must stop on any visit to this history-filled city.

My personal favorite tamales, however, are farther north in the Mississippi Delta. I’ve made as best I can count eight trips down the Mississippi Tamale Trail with my regular traveling crew (that doesn’t count a Boudin Trail trip in Louisiana) tasting virtually every twist on this unique Mississippi Delta delicacy.

I’ve long made the case for Doe’s, one of the few places that don’t use corn husks to wrap their tamales. One of the darkest days of the past 20 years was the day Charles Signa pulled out of Oxford eliminating that 20 minute drive to a tin full of world class tamales.

Scott’s in Greenville, which can be purchased at a small roadside booth just off Hwy. 1, a few blocks north of Hwy. 82 are always hard to beat. Numerous times we’ve pulled in there and ordered a dozen and opened them up on the hood of the truck.

Hick’s in Greenville is another classic. Eugene Hicks once told me he “puts a little bit of everything” in his tamales and I can say you taste it. They are the sweetest tamales, especially if you cover them with his chili, as he prefers.

Solly’s and The Tamale Place in Vicksburg are both great. It should be pointed out the Solly family is now The Tamale Place (long story) and Solly’s is a different group, but they’re both wonderful.

My personal favorite though would have to be the White Front Cafe in Rosedale where Barbara Pope always greets us with a smile and steaming hot tamales. That’s destination number one Friday night thanks to Trent Hall’s pick six.

Thanks Trent.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.