This Greenville, Mississippi, hole in the wall is home to the first family of Mississippi tamales.

Mississippi Delta
Credit: Jennifer Davick

Scott's Hot Tamales in Greenville, Mississippi, is barely the size of a snow-cone stand. If you are driving north on MLK Boulevard, it's easy to miss the red-and-white walk-up. The main clue for those hunting Elizabeth Scott's famous tamales? Cars. Lots of cars. People carry off the Delta's best by the dozen from sundown to past midnight.

The cravings began around 1950, when Elizabeth and her husband, Aaron, moved to Greenville with a tamale recipe he'd bought from a cook in San Antonio. The Scotts first sold tamales from a wooden pushcart and station wagon in Bolivar County.

More than 50 years later, Elizabeth, 87, has passed the award-winning tradition to her five daughters and oldest son, plus several grandchildren, who hand make thousands of tamales a week at the family's farmhouse in Metcalf outside Greenville. Tuesdays and Thursdays are tamale days at Elizabeth's house, where her daughters and granddaughters hand-wash each corn shuck and slow-cook the beef brisket filling in a small room next to the kitchen.

When I visit, Elizabeth is resting in her sitting parlor. "Do I still make them?" she says. "No, I retired. But I like being near." What she and her husband began six decades ago is relatively unchanged. Elizabeth's glassy eyes observe the room, and she quietly says to me, "This is nice."

304 MLK Blvd., 662/332-4013