Celebrating Cinco de Mayo every day
FULTONDALE, Ala. (WBRC) - Gina White was born in Alabama of Italian heritage, but her wandering spirit led her to move about. After her first husband passed away, she and her children moved home from California, but she brought something of her travels with her. Today, she shares a taste of that traveling spirit and is known to a growing following of food fans as The Tamale Queen.
Gina remarried after moving home and started on of the first food truck operations in the state. Now-husband Terry White recalls their first meeting at his job site, “Gina came out to feed us. The second time she came out I asked her, ‘Do you have a boat?’ She said, ‘A boat?’ I said, ‘Good as you cook if you’ll get a boat, I’ll ask you to marry me.’”
Gina explains how she came to know so much about making tamales, “We were on a Mission Field there in California. We were in and out of Mexico. I literally learned how to make them in Mexico. I’ve kind of modified it to make it quicker, easier, and faster so we can get the volume out to the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores.”
When her life led her back home, she brought along the taste of Old Mexico.
Terry did make good on his promise, and today, nestled in 100 Oaks Trailer Park in Fultondale, you’ll find them partnering up at The Tamale Queen, operating both a food truck and their new restaurant.
“The Hispanics were calling me on the job sites The Italian Tamale Queen. When we started this here inside 100 Oaks, I said they’re not going to buy from an Italian if it says Italian Tamale Queen.”
Gina laughs, “I dropped the Italian part and just put Tamale Queen, and so people look at the hair and just assume I’m Hispanic.
But it’s the taste of the tamales which makes Gina’s food authentic, right down to the wrapping. “One of my favorite things I encounter all the time and I have to say it immediately is when people say, ‘I’ve never had one of those, I want to try that.’ I was like, ‘Don’t eat the husk.’ Or they come back and say, ‘This is chewy.’ I say, ‘You don’t eat the husk!’”
The Tamale Queen Food Truck is back in full operation now, but her new permanent location in Fultondale is truly part of her story, all rolled in with the true taste of Old Mexico and Absolutely Alabama.
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