In the Heart of Mexico

When I was younger and more romantic, Valentine’s Day was my favorite holiday of the year. I’d go all out – wearing heart-shaped rhinestone-studded jewelry, baking rich heart-shaped shortbread cookies, donning my favorite, sexy, fire-engine-red Ann Taylor dress, making and mailing Valentine’s cards to all my dear ones. And on and on.

This behavior no doubt stemmed from my childhood, when my young and spirited mom went a little crazy on this occasion too. She’d decorate the house with hearts, bake a big pink layer cake and dot the fluffy icing with Red Hots candies, cover a large cardboard box with white crepe paper slathered with red construction-paper hearts, and have each of us kids create cards for every family member – with crayon drawings of cupids and arrows and countless little frilly hearts, reading “Will you be my Valentine?” and “I LOVE you!” and “Guess Who?” – and drop them into the box’s slot on the top, to be opened and distributed after the Valentine’s Day cake was served.

It was a day of love and fun and creativity, a refreshing change from the bellicosity that often prevailed under that roof.

Much later, when I was a caterer in New York, I made a red tartan heart design central to my company’s logo, signifying my then-passion for cooking and my heart’s devotion to the craft.

And, being a romantic, single, youngish woman at the time, in a city not known for its soft and tender heart, I confess I went a little overboard with the heart theme. My handsome, smiling waiters served hors d’oeuvres on heart-shaped copper trays. I made individual coeurs a la crème desserts in traditional heart-shaped molds, swimming in a pool of red raspberry sauce. I baked a fresh batch of my small, heart-shaped, sugarcoated Scottish shortbread cookies to accompany every party’s after-dinner coffee service. (See recipe below.)

Now that I’m retired and living in beautiful old San Miguel de Allende in the central mountains of Mexico, a city in fact known as “El Corazón de Mexico” (the heart of Mexico), every day feels like Valentine’s Day to me. There are hearts everywhere you look. “Mi corazón” (my heart) is a term of endearment frequently used between sweethearts and by parents toward their young children. Love is always in the air.

On a short stroll through SMA’s artisanal market recently, I encountered countless hearts in all of the many shops and booths there. Here are just a few:

This is just one of several shops (tiendas) in SMA that specialize in heart-themed items
At another shop
And another
And another

I seem to have outgrown the need for romance, and I don’t really miss it. Instead, my heart is filled with gratitude now. I’m immensely grateful to be here in this embracing city, in this wise old country, among its kind, good-hearted people. And, at this age and stage, I’m working on enlarging my compassion and wisdom.

The heart magnet on my fridge — with daily reminders

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Happy Valentine’s Day to all this week! Here is my Valentine’s Day recipe-gift for you:

Bonnie Fare Shortbread Hearts

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.

½ cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cornstarch

  1. Cream the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together.
  3. Gently combine the two mixtures, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and chill until firm.
  4. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thick; sprinkle surface with granulated sugar.
  5. Cut the dough into heart shapes and place hearts on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake in a preheated 325-degree (F.) oven for about 25-30 minutes, until very pale golden.
  7. Cool cookies on a rack. Store in an airtight container at room temp.

Be sure to watch my dear friend and former Bonnie Fare head waiter, Michael Marotta, make these shortbread hearts in this “What Would Michael Do?” YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7K0Jf40Jnw .

And for more sweet recipes for all occasions, see my newest book, Sweet Tarts for My Sweethearts: Stories and Recipes from a Culinary Career (Nighthawk Press, 2021). Sweet Tarts is available directly from the publisher at: www.nighthawkpress.com, or from Amazon.com, in both print and Kindle (full color) editions at:

https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Tarts-Sweethearts-Stories-Culinary-ebook/dp/B08M53HRH7/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sweet+tarts+for+my+sweethearts&qid=1611763977&s=books&sr=1-1 .

 

27 thoughts on “In the Heart of Mexico”

  1. And now my heart is full! Just back from the gym and lunching on avocado toast, here before me on my kitchen countertop are 2 Bonnie Fare recipes I dug out before leaving for me workout! I’m looking at your wonderful Lemon Tart recipe and the divine shortbread heart cookies to make this weekend. Imagine my surprise to open this weeks WOW and read all about it! And to my delight, I find it ends with a link to my YouTube channel! Bonnie, you are one of a kind. As I was always fond of singing at your parties: “Bonnie gentle Bonnie fair, she’s the one worth having there. Please your guests and please yourself with Bonnie Fare!” I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. Ah, dear MM, you make me swoon! I can hear your voice singing your Bonnie Fare song. Such a joy. And I’m thrilled that my new WOW’s mention of your WWMD video surprised you today. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Tony. — BB xx

  2. Lovely, Bonniedear. Looking forward to seeing todos esos corazones for myself in a little while! And would you please make some of your famous shortbread for me while I’m there? Just joking. I know you’re gluten free. xoxo

  3. Dear Bon,

    I wish you could have seen me read your blog post. My face was covered in an enormous smile the whole way through. I look back on those days with such fondness, as a golden time in my life. Just thinking about the shortbread hearts, and all of your cooking really, fills me with a very happy feeling. I still have my two Bonnie Fare red magnets on my fridge, where I can look at them every day, not to mention the tie and cummerbund. If it weren’t for Bonnie Fare catering, we would not have met. Just thinking that thought makes me so grateful that you are in my life.

    I saw that Michael wrote the first response, but I didn’t want to read it until I wrote mine. And as for Valentine’s Day, I can usually take it or leave it, but I am hoping that this year you will be my Valentine!

    Love,
    Paul

    1. YES, dearest Paul, I will be your Valentine this year — and forever. Thank you for your heartfelt comment, which brought tears to my eyes. How I cherish our now-35-year-old relationship. I, too, am grateful that you are in my life. Big hugs, BB xx

  4. Hi Bonnie! So enjoyed your blog about the hearts of SanMiguel! It reminds me that last year I baked your heart short bread cookies and passed them all around Taos! Now I’m in a tiny interim casa while waiting for our house to be finished. We sold our big house in September and building a one story house with two bedrooms on Robert’s lane just off of Kit Carson Rd.
    Unfortunately we both got Covid in January, Art worse than I and at this very moment he is in a Hyperbolic Camber trying to help his O2 level! I sit and watch while he sleeps. We don’t think we can travel to SMA this March, I might try to visit the end of the March. We have rented a house for the full month and half of April. So miss you! Will let you know if I can make it!
    ♥️Sally

    1. So good to hear from you, dear Sally. But I’m terribly sorry to learn that you and Art were walloped by COVID and that he’s still struggling because of it. Please give him my best. Your new house is in my old Taos ‘hood. I lived at the La Buena Vista condos for many years. I do so hope you’ll be able to make it down here to SMA in April. I’ll keep my fingers crossed! — Mucho love, BB xx

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