Sunday, January 24, 2010

Of Bizcochos and Great Aunts

The other day I received a box from my sister. She recently came back from Costa Rica. When anyone goes to Costa Rica or comes here from Costa Rica, we get a shipment of coffee. Tom loves Costa Rican coffee so my parents and sister always bring us some. I tell you we have a whole cabinet full of Costa Rican coffee beans. If you have never had Costa Rican coffee, I am sad for you.

I get my box and inside is the coffee and some black beans. I have spoken of my love of the Lizano black beans before. I love them because they remind me of my second cousin Flora who died a little over a year ago. When we were little and went to Costa Rica, Flora would always make us black bean sandwiches with butter. They were the best things ever. It was a highlight of my trips there.

The other thing in the box were two packs of bizcochos. What are bizcochos? Well I am posting a picture. But basically they are baked cornmeal dough circles with cheese. They are delicious. I think they are an acquired taste. Tom won't eat them. I love them and can eat them everyday of my life. Packaged bizcochos are okay and I eat them because that's all I have. But when I was little, my great aunts (my grandmother's sisters) would make us bizcochos and they were the best things ever.

It was really my great aunt Teresa who would make them. Oh how I loved her bizcochos. I never knew what made them so tasty but they were little crunchy bites of goodness. These things are even better than Fritos and you know what a Frito fiend I am. But I would rather eat bizcochos than Fritos.

So when we were scheduled to arrive in Costa Rica. My great aunt would always bake them up and they were always ready when we arrived. She would make hundreds and put them in big giant plastic bags. We always got our very own giant bag to eat while we were in Costa Rica. When I finished mine, I would just take some from my sister's bag because that's how I rolled back then.

I loved my great aunts. Teresa would make us bizcochos but we weren't that close to her. I truly think she just tolerated us but that was okay as long as I got my bizcocho fix. We were a lot closer to our other great aunts Chela and Luisa. Chela (real name Graciela) was the best! Luisa was actually Flora's mom and she was a little eccentric. Luisa didn't cook but she would always tell us these great stories about the haints and hauntings and scary things. I loved her stories and would always beg her for more. Plus, she was always really nice to us. She gave us money to go buy treats at the pulperia (mini grocery store) and always made us laugh. She was a little out there but I loved her nonetheless.

Chela would always cook for us. Even though she could barely walk, she would cook us up delicious treats. What I remember about Chela is that she made the BEST spaghetti in the world.

When we were little we always stayed with Flora and her husband, Juan Jose. My great aunts lived right next door since they had lived there their whole lives. Chela had a tiny wooden house that was accessible through a long walkway. The house was tiny and had 3 rooms. The front room, a bedroom and a larger room in the back of the house that had the kitchen and dining room. I remember the bathroom was outside immediately out the door of the kitchen. It wasn't really outside like an outhouse but outside nonetheless. There was also a little porch where Chela had one of those old crank washing machines with the rollers. I always remember that because if we were good, they let us put the clothes in the rollers. It was always fun but dangerous!

There was also a little garden outside and another little house in the back. I think it was more like a shed. So when we would go to Costa Rica, Chela was always one of the first people we visited. We would run like crazy girls down the walkway and enter in the back door. She always had her spaghetti ready for us. The thing I remember is that the sauce was made with fresh tomatoes. Then Teresa would bring over the bizcochos and it was always a feast. I have never ever been able to recreate Chela's spaghetti sauce and every once in a while I almost get it right but it's never ever as good as hers.

It was always a good time with my great aunts. So when I got the bizcochos in my goodie box, it brought back so many wonderful memories.


  1. Who's the cutest girl ever? YOU!!! You did not just blaspheme and say something was better than Fritos? It didn't happen!

  2. They sounds tasty...and it seems that they hold some wonderful memories for you!

  3. Carolyn,
    I think we may have much in common!
    I have searched the web for Bizcochos with not much success. This night, I had a great craving for Bizcochos that my grandmother used to make, and I helped by stirring the pot; can you believe it.
    The only internet information that I found informative and cultural was your post. No one understands the quality of Bizcochos; I too prefer Bizcochos over Fritos, and I love Fritos!
    Please contact me about the recipe for Bizcochos as I am infatuated to learn my heritage food.
    Vincent in Los Amgeles

  4. P.S.
    I have since read other comments about Carolyn and her favoritism of Bizcochos over Fritos. I will firmly stand with her on her authenticity that Bizcochos are better than Fritos. I love Fritos and crave them for over 20 years, but the reason that I love Bizcochos more than Fritos is my memory of Bizcochos that my grandmother made when I was at her home. My desire now, is to remember how she made them.

  5. What great memories you have! It must have been wonderful to have such a large & loving family to spend time with..... :)