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Authentic Malo

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 in Mens Clothing

Authentic Malo
Authentic Malo

I am going to let you in on an insiders’ secret. There is uncharted territory in la vieille France, where you can be with the natives (or at least other Europeans), where you can be seen as exotic for being American, and where, yes, it’s less expensive than the usual touristy gathering spots (where you end up seeing your old neighbors from New Jersey anyway).

Many Americans are familiar with northern Brittany, which includes Dinard, and St. Malo. It’s beautiful up there; with rock-strewn beaches under tremendous cliffs, over which huge mansions perch. You may not see the neighbors from New Jersey there, but you’ll see the ones from Nantucket and the Hamptons.

If you really want to get away, you can try my neck of the forêt. This place is southern Brittany. Few Americans venture to this corner of Brittany. Is it because of the lack of mansions, or that here, you may need your high school French (or your recently acquired Berlitz equivalent) to get by? I’m not sure what keeps you away, but I’m here to vendre la mêche, as we say (let the cat out of the bag). There are great deals to be had here, not to mention a more “authentic” European holiday. You know how when you go to Paris, you sense the French cringing… “ah non, pas encore, another American!” Here, you will be unique, or mostly unique. Which means that you will be treated better. Which of course means a better vacation for you and yours. You will not hear people with your accent, though you may hear English. You will be able to truly say “Toto, I don’t think we’re in New Jersey/Nantucket/the Hamptons anymore”. And believe it.

We have sandy beaches with rugged paths to explore along their edges. We have miles of endless fields with endless cows. There are no mansions, but there is a real artist’s colony (with real artists!) set upon winding cobblestone streets and restaurants overlooking a babbling stream. There are tiny towns that line the miles of shore, and others tucked away in the countryside. You will find brocantes, which are big, inexpensive flea markets, in back of dairy farms that will sell you fresh goat cheese. There are rivers where you can rent a canoe or rowboat. And of course there is the ocean on the bay of Quibéron, where there are tiny (and not so tiny islands) only accessible by boat.

You can camp or rent a “gîte” (cottage) on the Ile de Groix, and rent a personal sailboat to hop around. There are fishing expeditions; there are mysterious and ancient ruins in Carnac…bref, there is something for everyone, whether you are more the shopping-lie-on-the-beach landlubber type, or the boating-fishing-surfing-live-like-the-natives rugged type.

I’ll let you in on another secret. They are calling our area of France the “next Riviera”. Why? Because the south of France has become so crowded in recent years, and gets so overly hot in the summer, that many Europeans have ditched it for the same sandy beaches we have up here (without those 20 euro-an-hour “beach clubs” they have down in St Croix). Yes, the beaches here are still free.

I, however, live in a town called Lorient, which I give you permission to skip. During the Second World War, many towns with military bases on the water were destroyed completely, and rebuilt circa 1950. Have you been inspired recently by 1950’s architecture? Maybe so, but it’s not a reason to come to France. The only reason to come to Lorient is if you’re a fan of Celtic and Breton music. In the mid-summer, there is a huge international festival, lasting ten days, that brings in thousands of fans from the entire world. If that’s your thing, then you’ll love it. You will hear our accent though, but these will be the hippie/Woodstock/crunchy-granola/pagan-peace-lover types, probably not from Nantucket. I myself try to get out of town at this time of the summer. People start to think I’m a tourist. The nerve.

If you are interested in learning more about southern Brittany, the departments of Morbihan and Finistère,look up the areas on Google. Kenavo (good-bye in Breton), and à bientôt!

Cara Goubault is an American expat, English business coach and freelance writer living in Lorient, France with her husband and three children.

Briant y hermosa cocineras, una pregunta por favor…y pardoname malo Espanol…masa para tamales?

What is the proper consistency for tamale masa? I’ve looked at Youtube videos (ick, they used pre-made masa)…trying to make it from scratch, authentic, good. Some recipes say it should resemble peanut butter, some videos show very stiff dough. How do you make your masa?

And again, pardon me for my very bad Spanish, been too many years since I spoke it properly.


I found this recipe and the directions seem easy to follow, I hope this helps. You might want to consider making a smaller amount of the masa to start.

Basic Tamale Recipe
by Chef Jason Wyrick of The Vegan Culinary Experience
Serves: 24 Time to Prepare: 1 hour

12 cups of masa harina flour
10 cups of water or veggie stock (see below for some tasty stock options,
this amount may also vary depending on the type of masa you use)
1 tbsp. of salt
3 cups of vegetable shortening (Option: 2 cups of oil or margarine
instead of the shortening)
24 dried corn husks
Water to soak the husks
Option: 1 tbsp. of baking powder

1. Warm the stock. Combine the masa harina flour with the salt (and optional baking powder.) Stir the vegetable shortening rapidly until it is creamy.
2. Pour the stock into the masa mix and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Beat the moist masa mix into the shortening until you have a paste that will spread with a knife without breaking apart. You should end up with a semi-thick paste. If you do not have this, you can add more stock in ¼ cup amounts to the mix until you have the right consistency.
3. To check the consistency, spread the masa on a corn husk and if it spreads easily while staying together, you have the right consistency.
Option: If you use oil instead of the shortening, add it to the dry masa and then add the stock to the masa.
4. Soak the corn husks for at least 2 minutes. (Some husks may still have the silks in them, make sure you remove them before using)
5. Spread masa paste over the top half of a corn husk (the top half is the wide half.) Spoon a line of your filling of choice in a line on one side of the masa paste. Roll the tamale from the filling side to the other side. You will end up with one half of the roll that has masa paste and one that does not. Fold the half that does not have the masa paste against the tamale, folding it in towards the flap of the roll.
6. Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients.
7. Steam the tamales for 45 minutes. If you have a lot of tamales and a tall steamer, you can place the tamales vertically in the steamer.

Í Espero que esto ayude y buena suerte !


Melo Malo Performing Live at Alembi Cafe Dec. 11, 2010

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