In our current environment, many of us are reaching for comfort foods, even little treats from childhood. During my weekly grocery run I was astonished to find several varieties of one such treat I remember well: Maria cookies.
Maria cookies–“Galletas Maria”–are well known all over the Spanish speaking world. In Spain, they are found in every home. They are so iconic that you only have to ask for a “galleta” and you will get one of these cookies. (Now, if you’ve been bad and your mom says, “I’m going to give you a galleta!” that’s different–in that case, she is offering a spanking.) We use Maria cookies for breakfast and snacks, and also as an ingredient in desserts.
Here in the United States people don’t seem as familiar with them. There are usually at least a few golden foil sleeves of Goya brand Maria cookies in the “ethnic foods” aisle of most grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area. But on this shopping trip, there were a couple special varieties of Maria cookie that I haven’t seen for a long while. Why is a rural grocery stocking three different varieties of Maria cookie? Who knows! I bought one of each kind for my daughters to try.
The classic Maria cookie is a little like a graham cracker, but has a finer texture. These were the ones that were always in our pantry. The “Maria Supreme” is a little more buttery, a little fancier than a regular Maria cookie, and also appeared in our pantry from time to time. The third kind, Campechanas, are imprinted with a spiral to remind you of a palmier pastry. They taste more like a cracker, a lighter, sweet version of a Ritz cracker. That might sound odd, but they are great with your afternoon espresso.
If you find any kind of Maria cookie, get a package to try. We will get through these days of isolation one galleta at a time.