When it comes to food, Mexicans are well known as great lovers of their corn-made goods. But wheat has also occupied a big place in Mexicans’ hearts, especially when it comes to the marvelous variety of comforting, sweet or savory bread. A tradition brought up from the fusion of both indigenous and European cultures, mainly Spanish and French. This is the delicious tradition of Mexican bread!
The culture of “bread” in Mexico dates back to pre-Hispanic times, which might not be considered as bread because it involved products made with corn used for religious purposes, as offerings and for special events. With the arrival of the Spaniards, the bread concept changed forever in Mexico. They brought wheat to America along with the methods and procedures to prepare bread.
Today bread in Mexico is as essential as tortillas are. There are people who actually prefer having a crisp, fresh bolillo on the table, rather than tortillas. Speaking of which, this type of bread is used to prepare tortas, sandwich-type food filled with all sorts of ingredients; from tamales to breaded beefsteak.
And this is just the beginning. The sweet varieties of Mexican bread are thousands. Some have tried to register the number of types, which is a complicated task, as every state, city and even borough has its own type of bread: round, triangular, rectangular; there is some type of bread available in any shape possible. For this reason Mexico is the number one country in sweet bread variety.
Conchas, polvorones, orejas, campechanas, moños, rieles, garibaldis, ojo de buey; these are the names of some of the most popular sweet bread varieties. Some are spongy and soft like conchas, moños and garibaldis. Others are crunchy and some are made with a type of pouf pastry such as orejas (ears), and campechanas. And some that combine both textures like ojo de buey (bull’s-eye) which is a soft cupcake-like bread surrounded by a crunchy layer on its circumference.
Bread is something that accompanies every Mexican during mornings with a cup of coffee, as an afternoon snack or as a comforting dinner with a cup of hot chocolate; and also during special celebrations such as the Day of the Dead, when pan de muerto is prepared; or also during Three Kings Day, when families get together to break bread, in this case the Rosca de Reyes, a type of King cake.
Mexican bread is a great culinary tradition that has years of history, thousands of flavors, textures and shapes. It is something definitely worth skipping the diet for. So the next time you’re in Mexico in a big city or a small town, look out for the closest panadería or bake house and try out some of the delicious variety of Mexican bread!