Excitement rippled up and down the Rockbrook hill all morning. We had seen this lunch being prepared for days, and now it was finally here. This would not be just any lunch; it would be a lunch so good that, upon entering the dining hall, people looked at the table and said, “This is the best day of the year!” It was tamale day.
These were authentic homemade tamales, expertly prepared by Rick and our friends in the kitchen. Finely ground corn flour, oil, lime and stock combines to make a paste called “masa,” which is then spread into a softened corn husk, filled with chicken, peppers, vegetables and/or cheese, and then rolled/folded to make each tamale. Cooking and shredding the chicken, soaking the corn husks in water, preparing the Guajillo pepper sauce, and mixing the masa all take time, not to mention the effort required to assemble the tamales, one by one. The last step is to steam the tamales in large pots (one holding 20 gallons!). Can you see why this took three days, especially when a little more than 1000 tamales needed to be made?
We sat down to eat, and the room was filled with joyous gratitude. The freshly steamed tamales, homemade guacamole, salsa, sour cream and salad made a delicious meal. This day is legendary around camp, and only happens once throughout the entire summer. It felt special today that it was happening second session this year, and there was a pure kind of contentment about being together with this wonderful food.
BUT THEN our day got even better! The dining hall doors opened and in came a mariachi band! When they began to play, dressed in their amazing costumes, the entire dining hall erupted with elation and excitement. Everyone was full of pure joy. One counselor was so excited, her campers remarked that it was “as though she had just gotten a new puppy.” They played classics like “Canta y no llores” and “La Cucaracha,” and other songs like “Despacito” and “La Bamba.” The dining hall broke out in dancing, with girls jumping up and down, counselors spinning them around; a conga line even began. The performers had such joy and excitement in their eyes, which was reflected back to them by every girl. The amount of bliss in the dining hall today was truly unparalleled. Here, take a look!
If you were to take a snapshot of the best of Rockbrook, you might choose this meal, this moment. It included so many of the best things about camp that we have come to love. It was delicious food made with love, it was a surprise that sparked pure happiness, it was spontaneous dancing and singing, and enjoying all of this together. Even as it was happening, everyone knew that this was going to be a time to remember, a time that makes us step back and remember that, at camp, a meal can be magical.