A Passenger Was Fined $1,000 For Bringing Tamales To The U.S.

Photo: Beth Callahan / Alamy Stock Photo.
Reading this made our little food hearts weep: The Los Angeles Times reports that earlier this month, 450 pork tamales were destroyed at Los Angeles International Airport. Tamales (which are pockets of seasoned meat goodness wrapped in cornmeal dough and baked or steamed in corn husks) are pretty much the bee’s knees of Mexican cuisine as far as we’re concerned. They are also typically made and eaten around holidays, which means that someone was about to enjoy a seriously awesome Thanksgiving tamale feast.

Somehow the passenger, who was not identified in the story, had managed to pack 450 tamales into his or her luggage, each one wrapped individually in plastic. The problem? They were all made with pork.

Apparently, pork from another country “can carry serious animal diseases” such as mad cow, avian influenza, and swine fever. (It seems the passenger would have been in the clear had the tamales been stuffed with chicken or beef.) Ultimately, the officers called BS, fined the passenger $1,000, and incinerated the entire stash.

So not only did the passenger lose the money spent to make all those tamales (which had to have been an expensive endeavor), the tamale-less traveler also had to spend an extra thousand bucks on the incident — and deal with some disappointed friends and family.

We had no idea that there could even be such a thing as an illegal tamale, but if we ever need to bring 450 tamales on a plane in the future, we're going to stick to veggie.
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