Today, I've been in the kitchen cooking food for a Cinco de Mayo party while reflecting on my study abroad experience in Guanajuato. Not trying to be cliche (but I'll do it anyway), the summer I spent in Mexico was one of the best summers of my life. As anyone who has studied abroad knows, it's hard to explain why. It was my first time moving away and doing my own thing. It was also something that my friends and family didn't think I was capable of doing. The night before I left, my best friend wouldn't say goodbye because she anticipated seeing me back in Wisconsin in no more than two weeks. I was determined to prove them all wrong and be independent, and that's exactly what I did!
I always loved Mexican food. However, until I went to Mexico, I had no idea what Mexican food was. I was shocked to learn that tacos aren't ground beef with a packet of seasoning stirred in on flour tortillas with cheddar cheese and chunky salsa out of a jar (kidding). Tacos were something you made yourself during every meal, from whatever meat and toppings were available, salsa and fresh corn tortillas. I also learned that freshly made corn tortillas are delicious. I came to love chipotle salsa (my host family's maid, Lupe, made the most incredible chipotle salsa, but regrettably, I do not have the recipe). I loved saturdays because we would get Pollo Feliz for lunch because our host mom was at church. Pollo Feliz consisted of a spicy rotisserie chicken with a large stack of corn tortillas and an assortment of salsas. Yum. On Sunday, when our host dad would be home from where he worked as a mining engineer, we would have barbacoa. Whenever there was a reason to celebrate, we would go get ice cream. The best ice cream (second to the kind you would buy in a tub at the OXXO) was from Dunkin' Donuts, which we frequented regularly.
For two weeks at the end of July, our host family was in Michigan visiting their son. While they were gone, their former maid stayed with us and cooked for us. She was determined to feed us authentic Mexican food and was happy to teach us to make things whenever we were interested. I was on a gluten-free diet at the time, so I missed out on the Mexican pastries and many of the desserts. Our "substitute" host mom told me about a recipe she had for cookies, that didn't use flour. I didn't try them while I was in Mexico, but did when I returned. They aren't your average cookie, but they are tasty in their own right.
Galletas de Maíz Recipe
1 cup harina de maiz (finely ground corn flour)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablepsoons caramel sauce
Mix all ingredients together. The mixture will be thick but viscous. Pour by the teaspoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Leave at least an inch (if not two) between cookies. Bake at 375 degrees until golden. Move to a wire rack to cool