While a person may buy a cake here in Mexico seven days a week from early morning to late at night, getting any other kind of dessert is more challenging.
There is a bakery I walk by every day. Everything is fresh and in bins. Customers pick up a metal tray and tongs and select what they want, then bring it up to the counter. The tray is returned to the pile. The tongs are hung neatly with the other tongs. It is a great system, except that the tray holds a lot of baked goods -- probably more than I should eat on any given day.
But a problem has occurred.
I meet with a wonderful group of writers on a rooftop, and they have been kind enough to agree to read the first half of my new book. The first half (slightly more than half, actually) is 149 pages, so this is a generous thing for them to do. I want to bring treats, naturally. I thought apple empanadas would be best, as they are my favorite. But the meeting is at 2 in the afternoon, and the empanadas only appear at 2, promptly at 2, and never one minute before.
"I don't suppose I could pick any up at 1?" I asked the nice girl at the counter.
She shook her head sadly. No. They were only available at 2.
"What do you have that I could buy at 1?" I inquired.
She pointed to the bread. Somehow, showing up at the meeting with a bag of dinner rolls was not what I was imagining.
"What about donuts?" I asked. The girl's eyes widened as if I was really asking far too many questions, and she referred me to a baker standing in the back.
I explained to the baker (to the best of my ability) that I had a meeting at 2 and I would love to bring "sweets" to the meeting. The meeting, I added, was with Americans. (There will also be several Canadians, but I decided not to complicate things.) I could tell he sensed the problem. This man looked as if he'd been baking things long enough to have heard of the eccentricities of Americans.
"So, no empanadas before 2?" I wanted to confirm.
No, he shook his head sadly. That could not be done.
They come out later yet.
"Donuts?" He seemed to find this amusing. Donuts are never available before 5.
"Maybe you could buy empanadas the day before?" he suggested.
"Would they still be hard?" I asked (because I couldn't remember how to say "soft").
"They would be soft by the next day," he admitted. I was stymied.
I asked Pepe at my hotel, "Why do you eat donuts at night?"
"Oh! They are good with hot chocolate or coffee after dinner. When do you eat them?"
"Usually in the morning," I told him, feeling a little foolish as I admitted it.
"In the morning?"
I could tell Pepe was filing this away as yet another inexplicable thing he had learned about gringos while working at the hotel.
The meeting is next week, and I still do not have a good solution. I will probably take the baker's advice and buy empanadas a day early. They will be a little "suave," as he said, but they will still be delicious. And, as long as I'm buying things a day ahead, I may throw in some donuts.
We'll sit there on the roof, a bunch of happy idiots, eating donuts in the middle of the day.
Till next time,
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