Adriana’s Tamale Party with Watermelon and Queso Fresco Cheese Salad

My cravings for Mexican food come from Mom’s Southern California background. The flavors and spices of the dishes bring comfort to my heart. Some people might say my love for Mexican food isn’t authentic, because it’s actually “Tex-Mex.” It could be true. After all, I didn’t grow up in predominantly Mexican community, nor is the culture and language part of my ancestral background.

Some time ago, Nicole Taylor of Hot Grease, organized a private dinner honoring Dr. Jessica B. Harris and cookbook author, Bryant Terry. Among the invitees were Adriana Valez, a writer for The Stir and Naturally, the conversation centered around food. Somehow Adriana and I talked about Mexican cuisine and how her family held tamale parties. I eagerly asked her to organize one in Brooklyn, New York. She happily agreed to my request.

Hearing my excitement over tamales, Dr. Harris asked about the origin of my people. Knowing my family tree doesn’t have any Mexican branches, my simple answer was Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama. She shared with us a fun fact about some places in the South, African-Americans were known to stuff meat and vegetables in corn husks, too. It’s a recipe enjoyed in various forms–such as using banana leaves in place of corn husks–throughout the Caribbean, Spanish, and South American cultures. Tamales aren’t only Mexican. It’s also an African dish.

One Sunday, we arrived at Adriana’s house to learn how to prep and cook tamales. I contributed a simple Watermelon, Queso Fresco Cheese and Cilantro salad. Another guest brought sweet thyme crackers. We wrapped vegan tamales made with coconut oil masa, swiss chard and mushrooms flavored with coriander seeds and traditional lard tamales of pulled pork mixed with Adriana’s homemade fiery adobe sauce. As we waited the 45 minutes for the tamales to steam themselves ready to eat, we sipped on Hibiscus tea and Prosecco drinks. After the tamales were done cooking, we unwrapped our corn husk gifts and topped them with sour cream, radish slices and crumbled Queso Panela.

Tamale Party

Each bite of Adriana’s tamales warmed my heart. Perhaps, Mom’s influence explains my adoration of tamales. I learned tamales are a spiritual reminder of the universality food. Below is the recipe for my Watermelon, Queso Fresco and Cilantro Salad. The recipe for the tamales are found at Adriana’s

Watermelon and Queso Fresco Cheese Salad

A tamale party hosted by Adriana Valez of served with a refreshing watermelon and queso fresco cheese salad. Recipe by Sanura Weathers of


  • 1 small watermelon; If necessary, remove seeds and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 to 6 oz. Queso Fresco Cheese; crumbled
  • 1 cup minced cilantro
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
  • The juice of one lime
  • 1/8 cup red balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey


  1. Place watermelon chunks, queso fresco cheese and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the salt, pepper, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey to make a vinaigrette.
  3. Pour vinaigrette over the watermelon. Gently toss together.
  4. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Adriana’s Tamale Party with Watermelon and Queso Fresco Cheese Salad

  • August 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Love this combination… the colours, the freshness! Fabulous summer treat. I am familiar with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern versions of salads using watermelon. Thanks for sharing this Latin flavour!

  • July 20, 2012 at 11:51 am

    i am sure it tastes as delicious as it looks… I would sub the cilantro for parsley or anotehr herb, as I am not too find of cilantro. must try soon…

  • July 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    It’s always great to see how foods cross cultural lines. It’s like how many people have stuffed pastries–empanadas, patties, samosas, etc. We’re not as different as we think. Great post showcasing that point.

  • July 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    tamales are such a wonderful comfort food! I’m always fascinated with other cultures fall in love with Latin food and have a very specific reason. The watermelon salad looks so refreshing. I’m not a huge fan of the fruit, but I like things made with it!

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