Send Steve Where?: Biscochitos a unique, tasty New Mexico treat
February 19, 2018 06:46 AM
Send Steve Where? This is the latest in a series to let KOB anchor Steve Soliz learn New Mexico, and to give New Mexico a chance to get to know Steve. Send your suggestions on where Steve should visit at email@example.com.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There are many things for New Mexicans to be proud of. The state is home to majestic mountains, a Balloon Fiesta like no other and food that is absolutely delicious.
One of those foods has a sweet history that is uniquely New Mexico. KOB's Steve Soliz found that history at an unsuspecting storefront in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque – at a cookie store like no other.
"We have something here that people really want," said Celina Grife, owner of Celina's Biscochitos.
Before she started baking the savory delicacies, Grife was a successful realtor for 15 years.
"But when the housing market collapsed, that's when I decided, 'OK, maybe let me try this out. Let me see what happens,'" she said.
So she started baking cookies using a recipe that belonged to her grandmother, someone Grife describes as a quiet person whose love was almost included as an ingredient in her food.
Her recipe is one that might taste familiar to many New Mexicans.
"I found out it was a very traditional recipe," Grife said. "Most New Mexicans have something very similar to that recipe. As a New Mexican, and most New Mexicans would tell you, there are certain things that should maintain lard in the recipe. One is a biscochito, because if you change the recipe and you're using shortening, you change the density of that cookie and it no longer melts in your mouth. It's a totally different cookie."
Biscochitos are cookies that are a true and tasteful representation of New Mexico history. Grife said they originated in the 1400s when people found they had an abundance of pork. The excess lard became used for certain recipes – including lard cakes and biscuits called mantecados.
The Spaniards brought the cookies with them in their venture to the New World, Grife says. Nowadays, centuries later, there's some debate about what to call the crispy cookie.
"You could go to southern New Mexico or northern New Mexico, there's even that argument there," she said. "Southern New Mexicans call them biscochos, northern New Mexicans call them biscochitos."
The latter is the name that state lawmakers went with when they named the tasty treat our official state cookie in 1989.
"It is very much a New Mexican tradition," Grife said. "This is something that it really should be shared with everyone."
She added she hopes more people who don't know about biscochitos will eventually fall in love with a cookie that is close to New Mexico's heart.
"When we get to send them to Japan or Africa, that's exciting that other people from around the country or in those areas are going to be able to try our product and find out more about something so personal to New Mexicans," she said. "That's very exciting.">
Updated: February 19, 2018 06:46 AM
Created: February 18, 2018 09:06 PM
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