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The Canoles Arrieta family owns the most important micro-enterprise in Maria Luisa. Photo: Erika Ardila- Al Día News
The Canoles Arrieta family owns the most important micro-enterprise in Maria Luisa. Photo: Erika Ardila- Al Día News

‘Maria Luisas', the oldest cookies of Cartagena and Bolívar

The 'Maria Luisas' are cookies with more than 60 years of history in the department of Bolívar.

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In some bakeries in Cartagena and nearby towns in Bolivar you can appreciate the famous 'Maria Luisa' cookies, a white and cherry colored delicacy, made with flour and filled with dulce de leche made in firewood.  

These cookies come from San Juan Nepomuceno, a town located an hour and a half from the city, where there are still wounds left by the armed conflict that the country has experienced. However, the 'Maria Luisas' are part of the tradition that brings people together.

The 'Maria Luisa' were born more than half a century ago in a humble store and bakery in the San José neighborhood, in front of the only cemetery in town. Its creator was Mrs. María Narcisa Bustillo de Hernández, who one afternoon decided to turn some simple cookies that she had left unsold in her business into a delicacy filled with homemade dulce de leche. 

"I told my husband, Eliécer Hernández: now you will see that I am going to make some cookies with that dulce de leche. I put the candy on them, I glued them because they were thin, I put them in the oven and they were delicious," recalls María, a day after her 89th birthday, in a conversation with Radio Nacional de Colombia.

Neither her three children nor she knows why they baptized the cookie 'María Luisa', if the name of who they say is its creator is María Narcisa. " People' s nonsense", she answers.

Today these delicious cookies can be bought on the road from Cartagena to San Juan, as many vendors are supplied by the factory that remains in the town to sell it to travelers from Bolivar. 

Those who have already had the pleasure of tasting them, always repeat, because it is a unique flavor that can only be found in San Juan. It is said that the person who travels to this town and does not eat 'Maria Luisa', did not go anywhere. 

In Cartagena you can find them in the typical Bolivarian food stores in the Historic Center or the popular Pedro de Heredia Avenue. Undoubtedly one more gastronomic experience for those who come to the city. 

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