I met my informant at a cooking class in Cancun, Mexico. She and her husband hold these classes in their home just outside of the Hotel Zone. They’re both in their mid-50’s and have lived in Cancun with their three children for close to twenty-five years. My informant was born and raised in Mexico City, where she spent the majority of her youth mastering regional cuisines from throughout Mexico. She ultimately attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Though she is well versed in world cuisine, she considers herself an expert in traditional Mexican cooking, as the majority of her recipes have been handed down through both her family and her husband’s.

The classes she holds are for no more than twelve people and lasts roughly six hours. She gives a short lecture on different culinary regions of Mexico and then begins an interactive cooking lesson where the group prepares twelve separate recipes. The lesson was too long to record the entirety of the performance, but I recorded some of her specific introductions and explanations of several dishes. She also gave each participant a copy of the recipes, almost all of which were passed down through the generations. The informant transcribed them and included her own specific instructions.


“You need crispy bread…In Mexico it is always a bolillo or teller, the Mexican version of…baguette…since the times of Maximillian in the 1860’s…You can use small baguettes or cut portions from baguette. Portuguese rolls work too. We eat these breakfast, lunch, and dinner…they are easy and cheap, so good for young people who maybe don’t have much time or money, like college (jokingly gestures in my direction.)”


4 teleras bolillos, petite baguettes or large baguettes cut into 6” portions

2 cups refried beans homemade or store bought

2 cups Mexican oaxaca mozzarella or monterrey jack, grated (any melting cheese of your liking will do)

2 tablespoons of butter

Serve with pico de gallo salsa or another salsa of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the bread in half lengthwise to have 8 pieces. Spread each piece with butter then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of refried beans and add 3 to 4 tablespoons of grated cheese on top. Arrange molletes on a baking sheet as you make them. If you want, add additional toppings like ham, turkey, bacon or chorizo. Sprinkle them on top of the cheese. When they are all assembled, place the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread has a nice toasted crust around the edges. Serve with pico de gallo salsa, or a salsa of your choice, on the side or on top.


As Claudia suggests in the recipe, we used crumbled chorizo. It was interesting how familiar it felt to be eating a soft, white roll; despite the beans and salsa, the dish tasted decidedly European, like something I could buy on any street corner in Los Angeles. This can probably be explained by the historical context she provided; the rolls entered Mexican cuisine under the influence of a European monarch but has become a big part of everyday Mexican cooking.