Cultural officials have inaugurated the Tamale Fair in Mexico City, where cooks from more than 10 states, as well as Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, have gathered, offering visitors more than 370 varieties of the tasty dish.

The fair gives the public an opportunity to taste scores of varieties of tamales, including black and red mole, bean and mixiote, National Culture and Arts Council, or Conaculta, popular culture programs director Alejandra Frausto said.

The 22nd edition of the fair, which opened on Tuesday and runs until Feb. 2, is being held at the National Museum of Popular Culture in the Coyoacán section of southern Mexico City.

The various dishes available at the fair reflect the flavors of the regions they come from, such as rabbit, flower and seafood versions of the traditional Mexican dish, Frausto said.

Tamale artisans from Chiapas, Mexico state, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán and the Federal District are participating in the fair, the cultural official said.

Tamales prepared using a pre-Columbian recipe are being offered at the offices of the borough of Milpa Alta, Frausto said.

People in each of Mexico's states prepare tamales differently, Frausto said, adding that the southern state of Chiapas was known for its seven-ingredient tamales made with olives, prunes, raisins, almonds, morron chiles, boiled eggs and fried plantains.

The southern state of Oaxaca is famous for its tamales made with chicatana ants, considered a delicacy, while the state of Yucatan is known for tamales drenched in spicy Habanero pepper sauce.

Tamales, which get their name from the Nahuatl word for "wrapped," are a pre-Columbian dish made from corn flour, wrapped in corn husks, steamed and usually filled with beef. 

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