My teacher would come out into the schoolyard at recess with a tray strapped around her neck like those "Cigar? Cigarette?" girls in old fashioned night clubs. Hers contained homemade goat's milk candy and she made it a point to sit with me and try to speak together because she was trying to learn English.
Eventually we moved on to Guadalajara where I went to a much bigger and more modern American School. Our school days were divided, half English and half in Spanish. One of my teachers was Hawaiian. Go figure. When we had to use the restroom or go get a drink of water, we would raise our hands and have to ask in the language we we learning in at that time of day. We then received a sign that said Baño on one side and Bathroom on the other. The same for Water and Agua.
I remember we had to pass a huge black bull when we left our apartment. He lived in a field close by and had a big gold ring in his nose. My brother and I were both fascinated and afraid of that bull. I remember my mother buying tortillas in the small supermarket nearby, the little boys on the street selling rainbow packages of Chiclets and a monkey we met at a small hotel. I even met my first boyfriend in Mexico. His name was Jack (another expat) and he lived in the same apartment complex.
As most kids do, I picked up the language quickly and would precociously not only instruct taxi drivers with our address, but directions as well, all in Spanish.
There are years after our return to the States that I can't remember. But Mexico lives big in my mind, the people, colors, smells, markets, animals, vistas and food all still so clear.
Later on, we had Chihuahua's as pets (a big doggie heaven shout out to Mugsy, Beanie and Lemon!). Coincidence? I don't think so.
As an adult, I discovered tequila, Tijuana and diving in the Yucatan Peninsula. All totally different Mexican experiences. But whenever I think of Mexico, those early memories spring up.
For years, when I lived in Munich, my friend Erin and I would throw an annual big Mexican fiesta and invite all our German and expat friends. Both of us are Mexican food lovers and Germany is sorely lacking in that department. Of course I'm not talking about authentic Mexican food, but the California/USA style version. We both moved to Munich from LA and were in serious withdrawal. We made salsa and nachos and guac and of course, pitchers and pitchers of frozen Margaritas.
Gathering all the proper ingredients was like being in a culinary version of the Amazing Race. We had to start weeks before, doing mad shopping dashes around the city, frantically texting each other when we spotted or scored a proper food stuff. Germans have no clue what ripe avocados are and throw them out when they are peak Guacamole material. (I will save my epic fight with a Frau selling avocados in Munich's famed ViktualienMarkt for another time.)
So in a cookie tribute to my childhood (and adult) Mexican memories, here are Chocolate Chili Chihuahua cookies and Margarita flavored..well, Margarita cookies.
I did not have a cutter for either (shocking, I know.) I printed out silhouettes from the internet, glued them to cardboard and cut out the shapes.
For the dogs I used this recipe from Epicurious attributed to Dorie Greenspan. I've previously only used cocoa powder for chocolate rolled cookies so I loved her idea of adding melted chocolate and cinnamon to the batter. I added 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder.
Then it was onto the Margaritas. I found a fantastic recipe from Smitten Kitchen (coincidentally, she adapted her recipe from another one by Dorie Greenspan.) I can't explain it but my kitchen smelled like Margaritas when these were baking.
Instead of shaping the cookies into logs and rolling them in a salt/sugar combo, I rolled them out and cut out margarita shapes and painted them with royal icing dyed with food coloring. I did add a bit of lime juice to the icing.
Both cookies had such great flavor, in retrospect, It was a shame I covered them with icing but I was stuck in my
Seriously, I would recommend making them the Dorie Greenspan and SK way.
A small tip - if you roll the cookies and cut out shapes, for the chocolate cookie recipe, use cocoa powder instead of flour for your board and rolling pin and powdered sugar for the margarita cookies.
Feliz Cinco De Mayo!