Mexico Pastry Tour Part I
When you enjoy your work, you never stop challenging your creativity, you never stop exploring, you never stop learning. To move forward, you sometimes have to take a step back to learn about your history. Besides the fact that methods of baking are considered to be a lot of science and math, baking is also a lot of history. The fun part is learning as much as possible about that history.
One of my most favorite moments was the first time I took a trip to Mexico City for the Mexipan conference. That was an eye-opener for me. The bread industry is Mexico is enormous. And no wonder; Mexico boasts over 1,200 varieties of sweet bread and 400 varities of savory bread! While most of the business there is becoming industrialized and the ‘big box’ grocery chains are becoming the go-to place for people in Mexico to buy their bread, there is still a strong reliance on small, independently-owned bakeries and pastry shops.
From this conference and this trip, it is evident that Mexico still has strong traditional ties to its pan dulce. It is not uncommon to have breakfast and the first thing you will see on the table is a small basket of bread, whether at a friend’s house, a hotel, or even a restaurant. The merienda, a small snack between lunch and dinner, usually consisted of bread and something else, or just pan dulce and milk, or of course, pan dulce and coffee. So pan dulce continues to be a strong part of daily life in Mexico. In Mexico City alone, there are over 1500 bakeries, so it is no wonder that some of the bakeries that opened in the 1800s and early 1900s are still going strong today.
I had the good fortune to visit two during that trip: Pasteleria Ideal, which opened in 1927, and El Globo, which opened in 1884. It truly was a sight to see such a wonderful fusion of old history and new technology. Bread created from recipes of generations past, alongside new pastries and cakes created from new ideas. As noted chef Hugo Ortega once told me, ‘we are not creating anything new, we are simply taking a recipe that has gone from generation to generation and added our own bit of passion to it.’ We hope you taste that the next time you bite into one of pan dulce.