The first day in Mexico I slept all day in the Hotel. The Hotel I booked, on the strength that it had, excitedly, among other things, magnificent food.
The second day in Mexico, I rode to the nearby village and ate my way around town, discovering a wonderful Bakery and lots of road-side women, selling incredible taco’s from make-shift carts and precarious card tables.
On the third day in Mexico I crave the salty sweet Ham and Cheese pastry (Hojaldras de Jamon y Queso) that I’d had the day before, while cycling around town, from Pan del Carmen.
You see, that was the problem; I’d tasted the crunchy, flakey, sweet baked items and the flavorful local porky morsels (like pungent fatty pork—and chorizo with potato) from the little women at the street stalls in the village so that nothing any ‘well-meaning’ Hotel conglomerate could offer me would suffice. (No matter how many stars, no matter how good the food was) Breakfast had always been a dilemma for me. Salty or sweet.. (waffles or eggs?) Today I’m craving this pastry, which is both of those things, so I get on my bicycle and head back to the village.
Hojaldras de Jamon y Queso is a ridicuously flaky pastry, with a hard shell of baked-on chunky sugar that’s had a chance to caramelize. I’m eating it off a faded red plastic table (a gift from Coco-Cola, it seems). The Ham is slightly salty and I detect a hint of smoke. The cheese is soft, oozy, yellow. Possibly too yellow. Which might imply chemical enhancement, but I don’t care. Within moments I’m bathed in crumbs. Big delicious flakes —so thin, you can see-through the jagged shards.
I want to scream my joy from the bakery balcony! Re-direct (by hand, like a Traffic cop) the hoards of optimistic Caucasian faces alighting from the nearby Tour buses and urge them to move away from the Pizziera. (I mean; I’m sure it’s fine, but who goes to Mexico for the Pizza?) And then, advise them too, to avoid the places with English translated breakfast menus with their earnest and perfectly cut papaya squares, and their ‘health’ cereal containing just the right flax seed for colon control. Come to the bakery people! Pan del Carmen! (and the little lady around the corner who sells the best taco’s ever)
I hold court there, at the Bakery, for quite sometime. (On my plastic Coco-Cola table, with my mess of flakey shards) saying a cheery ‘hola!’ to the people entering the Bakery who I have never met before and I will never meet again. While the baker himself brings out tray upon tray of small intricate goods (while Gangster Rap thumps in the back room) They get arranged, tier by tier, on rough-hewn wooden racks with Neon signs; Cinnamon bark— candied and sprinkled on small fried dough pieces, Churros, Cookies shaped like slices of watermelon, a curious bread roll with a stick of green jelly (who’s name is smeared and I can’t read) and the Budin, a triangle dough seeped in caramel syrup, like raisin bread pudding, but denser.
Then I go across to where the little lady with the incredible taco’s is, but she’s gone. Magnificent dining really means being able to access the same street stall or local bakery, two days in a row and unfortunately, sadly, I’m a day short.