By Golly, Barbecue and Hot Tamales

As the summer winds down, it’s high time for a road trip.  After all, even Porky LeSwine can’t eat North Carolina barbecue at every meal.  Sometimes he needs to eat barbecue from other states (and refer to himself in the third person).  So strap on your computer’s seat belt and come along for a ride to the Mississippi Delta, where tamales are king.

That's Willie in front, chomping on a big cigar.

I recently visited family in Illinois, and while there my father-in-law took me on a short trip to Mississippi (thanks Bill!).  How long did it take us to travel from Illinois to Mississippi?  Just a few minutes, since we took  a shortcut by stopping at Willie’s Homemade Tamales and Smokehouse in Sparland, Illinois. 

Willie, who told me he moved to Illinois from Greenville, Mississippi 33 years ago, has been making his own tamales for years.  He started out selling them from a pushcart near the Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Illinois.  About five years ago he took a leap of faith and converted an old gas station into a restaurant in nearby Sparland.  He now sells various kinds of barbecue (ribs, sausage, pulled pork, pork chops and more) alongside his trademark tamales.

But what do tamales have to do with Mississippi? Continue reading

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