Fernando the Tamalero

By: Yamileth Osorio and Paulina Pacheco

Every Morning, Josh VIllagomez notices students come in with their “Bathtub” Tamales, as he so-called assumes that’s where they come from. So we went out to investigate and in our recent interviews we found out more than just where they get their masa from but why they do it.


Everybody has their own supplier, we interviewed the two most – what we thought – were the most known. Fernando Ramirez, a man who stands in front of a market on a corner, crossing the street from Russell Elementary School is an immigrants like many of the tamaleros.


“Desde cuando me viene para aquí de Guerrero, México, no eh hecho nada más que vender tamales…yo tengo 10 años vendiendo tamales.”


He told us that he gets his masa from the Amapola  a very well known store for tortillas, he also said most of his tamalero friends go there as well because once you’re in that business you make friends.


Recently, he raised the price from one dollar to one dollar and twenty five cents, which isn’t much of a difference. He says, “Como ya están subiendo los precios de los ingredientes, pues yo tengo que subirle los precios a los tamales también…no es que quiero pero lo necesito porque a veces no acompleto para mis gastos.”


Sometimes he doesn’t sell all the tamales at his spot. “Con el resto de los tamales, yo me voy a otra estación o lugar y los vendo ahi, o al veces en camino a casa, los acabo de repartir…al fin del dia, yo los vendo todos.”


He says that he doesn’t sell all the tamales in just one spot, once he sees that he doesn’t get more people at his usual spot, he wonders around or goes to a different spot. But at the end of the day, he sells them all.


Every week he makes about 400 dollars a week, but the money varies. “Vendiendo tamales es una necesidad, aquí nosotros luchamos más que somos inmigrantes, sin papeles y sin una educación como las de ustedes,  y tenemos muchas cosas en contra de nosotros, pero nosotros solo venimos para luchar.”


Fernando says that he sells tamales because it’s a necessity, being an immigrant it’s harder because you can’t really get equal opportunities as people who have papers and an education…they have a lot of things against us immigrants and those are struggles that we have to overcome, by striving.


It isn’t as easy as it looks, it’s a struggle. It isn’t all about standing in a corner and just putting tamales in a bag and charging.  

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