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No days off for Central Coast ‘tamal lady’ delivering food to families and businesses on Thanksgiving

Nathalie Vera/
Beth Rangel makes chile relleno tamales on Thanksgiving.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. --Thanksgiving means extra down time for many, but for one Central Coast “tamal lady”, the season is anything but.

“Today it's Thanksgiving, and I'm delivering about 50 dozen [tamales]," said Beth Rangel, a Santa Maria cook who's become known for her delicious dish.

“The one that sells the most is chile relleno, but we also make chicken, pork, and spicy pork," she says.

When she's not helping at her sister's Orcutt restaurant, Old Town Mexican Cafe, Rangel is making custom orders for families and office dinners.

“I started prepping at midnight," she says.

The popular tamalera is used to it. Thanksgiving is the start of her busiest season.

Rangel spent all Thursday morning making deliveries to homes and businesses around town. For many, her tamales are just as part of the holiday season as turkey or mashed potatoes.

“For Christmas time, it's over 100 dozen [orders].”

It's a tradition that started with her mother.

“My mom was a single mother who had came from Mexico, and she had 16 kids.”

She sold tamales to raise Rangel and her siblings.

“We've been doing it for about 40 years," she says. “I love doing what I do. It fills my heart. There's something about it that makes me really happy.”

Rangel says it's what makes her feel a little closer to her community --like she has a seat at the table, too.

“I always wanna thank everybody for giving me the opportunity to take that food to their table on the holidays.”

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Nathalie Vera


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