On Zarela's Mind: Hearts, Hands and Walnut Cookies

The first gift my last love gave me was a delicate hand, palm up, holding a heart. He did not know that the phrase “Mi corazon en tu mano” is a beautiful way of saying I am giving myself to you. He may have noticed that there were a lot of hearts around the house, but I doubt that he knew that I also collect hands. Somehow, in one swift act, he gave me his heart, asked me to protect and not hurt him and added a meaningful piece to my hand and heart collection. Seven years later, I still have it. 

My heart collection started when I was a young teenager. I still have a few that remind me of romantic nights, help me recapture the feeling I had when it was given to me. I have an ancient puffed heart made of silver, a heart-shaped box made of cloves, a gorgeous Murano glass heart from my friend Laurel. I feel like the tin man in “The Wizard of Oz” who only wanted a heart. I have so many! Maybe I need them more because I can’t always hacer de tripas corazón (take the bull by the horns; literally, turn my guts into a heart).

I love hands because of the ones I’ve known in my life: My mother’s hands rolling out flaky flour tortillas; my grandmother’s playing an old waltz on the piano; the rough, cracking hands of a cowboy hitting his chaps with his lariat. My collection has a few carved examples, and paintings given to me by people I love. So this collection is very small except for the jewelry made special by the trouble of the search – a 1940’s hand pin-and-earring set, earrings made of wood and bone, silver hands, bronze ones.

Between the two—hearts and hands—are these polvorones de nueces, or walnut cookies. Some people call them Mexican wedding cookies, because they are handed out on that romantic occasion. And in making them, you have to roll them into balls with your hands, so your essence permeates the dough.

Check out the recipe here.