Here in Spain people don’t usually do much baking. Their pastry selection is quite limited and heavy on the whipped cream and sweets made of egg yolk. This is good news for my waistline, but quite frustrating when I just want to eat something delicious! Add that to the fact that apartments here don’t usually come with ovens (we just have a big toaster oven) and baking is virtually impossible.
So what do they do as Christmas nears and people should be spending their weekends baking cookies? They buy mantecados and polvorones. These are similar to cookies (wikipedia calls them a type of shortbread) made with lard. They are usually extremely dry and crumbly and have a really pasty texture when chewed.
I’m still not really sure if I like them or not. I think that being deprived of other choices, when December rolls around basically anything sweet tastes good. Last year, convinced that I really did like them, I brought them home to my family for Christmas. However, I didn’t even touch them and neither did anyone else. Which brought me to the conclusion that they don’t even slightly compare to the baked goods we have in the US for Christmas!
I think it’s sad that people don’t bake here. It’s such a fun process and brings some great memories to mind. And the results are delicious!
Pictures of some mantecados: