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Mama Cruz’s Famous Guacamole

I had lived 23 years before discovering my intense love affair with avocados. It all began the first Sunday brunch I attended at my husband’s (then boyfriend’s) parent’s house. It was their Sunday tradition—menudo with cilantro and onions, carnitas, salsa roja, limes, tortillas, and a tiny bowl of green, mushy stuff—exotic food that I was tasting for the first time. My mother never made guacamole, never bought avocados. It just wasn’t on our menu. Mix in my amateur high school Spanish and I was in unchartered waters. His mom, who we lovingly refer to as Mama Cruz, must have mixed in magic potion because, after one first hesitant bite, I was under its spell.

Surprised by how much I enjoyed the flavor and blend of texture—crunchy and smooth, spicy and sweet—I have never looked back. Perhaps it even played a small role in falling in love with my husband! I raved to my family and friends about guacamole and how much I loved it and needed to order it every time we went out to eat. The menudo, unfortunately, did not have the same effect on my taste buds. To this day, I go to Sunday brunch mostly for the guac!

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Lulu’s Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

“Maryn, where is the cookie dough?!” my mother yelled as I hid behind the kitchen counter, hunched over the large mixing bowl of addicting sweetness. She turned her back for a second to answer the door and that’s all the time I needed to snatch the bowl. I was caught red-handed, or should I say, dough-handed.

“But, Mom, I just wanted a little taste…” I muttered through a mouth full of dough and chocolate chips.

This was the quintessential treat from my childhood. The smell of cookies escaping the warm oven and perfuming the kitchen with aromas of vanilla and chocolate. It wasn’t my fault that I was entranced. She always had a fresh batch waiting on the cooling rack when we’d come home from school each week. It was her “I love you” to us kids. And my eating every morsel was my “I love you, too.”

To this day, I always request it when we visit Grandma Lulu and I carry on the tradition for my little guy. It’s one of the few recipes that I have memorized by heart.

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