I’m slowly improving bit by bit with every online class I do, though a long ways to go before everything is sparkles and glitz. The video is long. Very long in terms of a YouTube cooking video as it was not meant to be a YouTube cooking video, rather part of class at Tucson Botanical Garden. Which explains the long windedness, crazy waving arms and talk talk talk.
No worries as long as the food is still good. Watch this coyota video and read on for some background history on this tasty little pastry and make your own.
A brief history:
Coyotas are now found easily throughout all of Sonora and in parts of southern Arizona, it
comes particularly from the Villa de Seris, originally its own municipality separated by Hermosillo by the Rio Sonora, incorporated into the growing city in the 1930s, yet retaining its distinctive character and people, many of them of Comcaac (Seri) ancestry.
Growing up in Hermosillo in the 1980s, there were only a few places where to buy coyotas, and of these, Coyotas Doña Maria, was the best known and most sought after. As the popular story of the coyota goes, Doña Maria Ochoa de Moreno was shown by her Spanish neighbor, Doña Agustina Ibarra de Araiza, how to make coyotas from a family recipe in the early 1950s. Doña Maria then began to make the coyotas, distributing them to neighbors, eventually opening up the bakery still operating today.
Even with Villa de Seris being dotted with coyoterias, it is still this one which holds the greatest appeal. Finding the place isn’t difficult, not because of signs or the use of maps, but because the scent of it travels far. For blocks the fragrance of caramelized piloncillo mixes with the mesquite used to fire the oven at Coyotas Doña Maria, an oven big enough to fit a small car inside of it. The scent is all that is needed to find them, a scent not found elsewhere in the city.
Doña Maria is never cited for creating the coyotas, merely with popularizing them. This lady had the good fortune of connections, first to Doña Agustina, then to her brother-in-law, Alfonzo Durazo, known as ‘El Mago de la Carne Asada’ owned the popular Xochimilco nearby, where coyotas began to be offered as desert, forming a connection between the two dishes lasting to today.
The Spanish neighbor Doña Agustina Ibarra de Araiza, a member of local cattle ranching family of Spanish ancestry, mentioned mostly as a blip in this story deserves a closer look. According to Enrique Vega Galindo, historian and a Villa de Seris native, it may have been the Ibarra family which began the coyota tradition with Doña Santos Astroga de Ibarra, Doña Agustina’s mother. Doña Santos had in her employ an elderly Seri woman who brought to the household a Seri cookie from her childhood on Sonora’s coast. Cookies were baked on hot stones and in between them sandwiched dulce de pitaya, a preserve made with organ pipe fruit, endemic to western Sonora.
From here the Ibarra family made this flat empanada, of two tortillas filled with grated piloncillo (also known as panocha), and baked together. It was then Doña Agustina Ibarra de Araiza who began making coyotas and established a bakery selling them in the 1930s, at least two decades before Doña Maria.