Buying Baked Goods in Mexico

Learning to shop has been an ongoing goal for me. I can’t say I know exactly where to get everything yet, but I feel that I’ve made some progress. Today I’d like to highlight the ins and outs of buying baked goods.

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Rolls, buns, sweet bread, and doughnuts can be bought at the local panadería (bakery). The items are on shelves behind glass, or sometimes plastic sheeting.  To select the items, you pick up a pair of tongs and pile a tray high.

Our baker makes an assortment a good stuff and has others brought daily from a larger panificadora (bread maker).

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Cakes are not sold whole at either of these establishments, although you can often find sheet cakes cut up to purchase by the piece. If you want a whole cake, you’ll need to to go the pastelería (cake shop).  Be aware that unless otherwise specified, any cake you order will be of the tres leches variety (sponge cake soaked in condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream)  which needs immediate refrigeration.  You can pre-order your cake if you have a particular flavor preference otherwise there are usually several options made that morning for you to choose from.  Some pastelería offer “American cake” which is yellow cake but often has fruit or jelly instead of frosting between the layers.

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If you are looking for something a little fancier, you might try the repostería or postería (pastry shop). Not only can your order cakes, but you can often find cupcakes, cookies, pies, empanadas, and jello.

Then there’s this place to take your baked goods to a whole new level. Here you’ll find artisan bread. And yes, they are displayed as if you were at a gallery.

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So where do you get your baked goods?

 

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A Day in the Life in rural Mexico State

Daisy shares a day in the life in a small town in the state of Mexico.

What is my typical day like? Well, it starts off pretty early in the morning, as I regularly get up around 4:30 am to teach Chinese students online. There are a million companies out there, some needing a degree, some not, but most paying between 15 and 25 dollars an hour. I am lucky enough (or unluckily enough, since those student loan payments are still a burden) to have a BA, but in addition, I got my TEFL off of Groupon for 39 dollars. I haven’t had it turned down once since most companies just want to be able to tell students (and their parents) that the teachers have a piece of paper.

But wait! What about me? Well, I have been living in rural Estado de Mexico–central highlands, altitude 8000 feet where I often wear sweaters in my house even in summer-close to Mexico City but quite countrified–for the last 8 years. My husband is Mexican and my two children (8 and 3) were born here. I never had a plan to move to Mexico but once life circumstances put me here, it was like I was made for it!

Compared to the families around me (a good proportion of whom I am related to by marriage) you might say my husband and I are a bit unconventional. I work from home, online teaching and WordPress support, while he is in charge of the kids. Since schools have a nasty habit of informing the parents the day before of some vital meeting or big project due, it’s nice to have someone not working. Plus, he made such a small amount of money for the long hours he worked, I worked really hard to convince him to leave his job and just do side projects when he was bored. It’s not always easy on his self-esteem since it he is the only stay at home dad most people have seen before, and it goes against the strictly defined gender roles of the area, but it works for us.

Working online has enabled me to really add to our creature comforts. There is nothing like the satisfaction of a hot shower, after taking bucket baths for several years. I used a contraption like this to heat our water; basically, electric coils wrapped around a block of wood. It is the same concept used to heat up water in an electric kettle, but it was a shock when I first saw it. It’s totally safe, you just have to remember to NEVER test the water by touching it!

As I mentioned, I get up early, work a few hours with the Chinese schools, then do some hours with another online ESL company that has daytime hours.. I try to not work from 12 to 3, since that is the main meal time in Mexico. I cook while he goes and picks up the kids. Then after we eat our main meal, I go back to work while he helps with homework and coaches his soccer teams. We don’t eat any processed foods, and I buy all our vegetables, meat, and fruit and local mercados (markets) or shops, not in the grocery store. It just seems fresher to me, and I like buying from the exact same person I have been buying from for the last 8 years, and knowing I am supporting that individual instead of a corporation.

If it is the weekend, you might catch us at a party that we can fully enjoy, knowing we helped pay for it. Cooperation is still alive and functioning in my area, where there is a great big circle of party love going around and around. I am proud to be asked to be the madrina (godmother) of the bouncy gym, tents, etc since these same people did the same for me when I had my daughter’s tres años presentation (3-year-old presentation). I only paid for the food!–which was still a lot, considering it was for 300 people! I know that some people have not had good luck with this sort of setup, but it works very well where I live–and I really think it strengthens the ties that bind the community together. When it works, it is a great deal–entertainment for the whole family, food, and drinks, for about 1500 pesos–the same amount you might spend at a semi fancy restaurant. I still consider myself lucky I landed in an area where people dance cumbia instead of grupero or norteño.

I often rage on expat pages because of their ignorance of how difficult life is for average Mexicans. I think that they have a Pollyannish attitude about corruption and crime, such as murders and kidnappings that can fall heavily on rural areas, but which don’t usually affect expats living in tourist areas.  Even though I am lucky enough not to live in a narco area, my house has been broken into several times here, and we have a big problem with assaults on buses. If you are a woman in an abusive relationship….good luck. I have seen several cases where the police refused to file charges, even with physical evidence of abuse. I think the issue is the impunity. Hardly any crimes are solved here, and people don’t feel they can rely on the police to help them. That is the big difference to me.  I think what happens with the Pollyanna folks that if you have everyone asking you constantly why you would go to such a dangerous place, you want to defend Mexico’s honor but if you are here, you want to defend the people who are suffering and not getting help from their government. Having said all that though, I feel quite safe and  I love that my children can play outside in a great big mob of 20 cousins with no supervision; I love that they can explore their independence by walking to the store alone (well, with 5 cousins in tow). Yes, we have tablets and TV, but the majority of their time is spent outside playing, which lines up perfectly with my beliefs about how to raise emotionally resilient and communicative children.

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Birthday Boy

My son turned 16 in May. We opted to invite some of the family over for a cookout.  It went better than I expected. As you’ll see, Mexico does its own thing when it comes to birthdays.

In the morning, just at dawn, my husband and I crept into my son’s room to “dar el remojo” (give the soaking). Instead of birthday spankings, water is dumped on the birthday boy or girl. Way before the Catholic church arrived to baptize the indigenous people, rain was the blessing given by the gods. El cumpleaños (anniversary of completing years rather than the day you were born) deserves some liberal blessing libations, don’t you think? Of course, my son sputtered and flopped about like a drenched chicken, but a little water never hurt anyone (except the Wicked Witch of the West but she isn’t known here in Mexico).

In the afternoon, after we ate all the tacos we could eat, it was time for the cake. Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” the traditional song is “Las Mañanitas” which is also sung on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, the Virgin of Guadalupe’s day and saints’ days. It’s a pretty song used for serenading. Typically, only the first verse is sung at birthdays followed by a coro (cheer) “A la bim, a la bam, a la bim bom bam, (name of the person, name of the person) Ra, ra, ra.” As it’s all nonsense, no translation is needed. Remember, in Mexico, more often than not, your birthday and the day to honor the Saint for which you were named are the same day, thus “el dia de tu santo” (your saint’s day) in the song still applies although it is sometimes altered to “tu cumpleaños.”

Las Mañanitas (1)

Despierta (nombre de la persona) despiertaPasó el tiempo de dormirYa los gallos muy contentos cantaron kikirikiYa viene amaneciendoya la luz del dia nos dió.Levantarte de la mañana,miAfter the singing, the chant begins “Que le sople. Que le sople.” encouraging the birthday boy or girl to blow out the candle. The next step is “Que le muerda. Que le muerda.”  The birthday boy/girl is instructed to take a bite out of the cake which inevitably results in a face plant when someone attacks from behind. Then the chant changes to “Que le parta. Que le parta.” indicating it is time for the cake to be cut and served. 

Breaking a piñata at a birthday party is typically only found at parties for the very young, and well-to-do families, or so says my husband.  Considering he came from a family with 11 children, it really wouldn’t have been affordable to have a piñata for every child’s birthday, so I can see his point. We have had piñatas in the past, but not this year. For the same reason, giving birthday gifts isn’t one of my husband’s family’s traditions. Thus, this was my son’s lone b-day present all decked out in Spiderman, for old times sake.

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So there you have it–the low-key event marking my son’s 16th birthday.

 

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Filed under Mexican Holidays, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

More Lil’uns

Mama Hen wasn’t satisfied with hatching out el ejército this year.  She went for the second esquadron. While she was busy incubating, our other broody hen, that only managed to hatch 1 lone soldier (albeit special forces fuzzy feet) took over command of el ejército.  

 

Our upstairs cat Licky, so named because she prefers to eat her dinner upstairs on the back porch tried to get one of those roaming chicken nuggets one day.  She wasn’t successful however now whenever our downstairs cat Kitty, that looks nearly identical to Licky, is out back, she is subject to hysterical henpecking.  She’s taken refuge in a pile of sticks, sort of like a fort and won’t come out unless I’m down there on the steps.

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Kitty during the Zombie Chicken apocalypse.

Then one day, my son was playing his guitar in his room and suddenly heard some whimpering from outside his window.  It was a scruffy yellow puppy and he looked to us for salvation. After asking the neighbors, we pieced together his story. We think he had been abandoned at the top of La Yacata and spent the day wandering hither and yon through the hostile terrain until he heard signs of civilization and made his way to the shade by my son’s window.  He was full of fleas. It took quite a bit of effort to clear that infestation up. He’s a bit of a scamp.

IMG_20180507_110939.jpgPuppy doesn’t seem to mind Lil’pup but has become a little sullen and maybe even a little depressed.  Any new addition to the family is bound to upset the older brother. We have been trying to pay extra attention to Puppy so that he knows he is still loved.

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