The long-awaited meeting
But enough about the other tamale men. Eyes back on the prize. Where was Claudio? I sat and waited, chatting with Boban, Turbo, Gerstle, and other bar patrons. Twenty minutes went by, 30, 40. And just as I was starting to despair, in he walked, signature red cooler in hand. A short man with a thin mustache and pleasantly round belly, Claudio is quick to smile. He has an easy, calm exuberance about him that makes his “tamales, tamales” feel like a warm invitation to join the party. Claudio made a beeline for Turbo. Within 10 seconds he’s at my table, opening the cooler: “Chicken, pork, or cheese?” he asks. “Oh man, they all look delicious,” I say, “but I’m actually writing a story” and explain my mission.
At first, Claudio was dubious about chatting with a reporter. He said he’s working, maybe later, that he’ll give me his number. But I had come too far to not get the interview, and after a little coaxing he finally sat down and gave me the quick lowdown.