Mexicans carry on the tradition of king cakes
While tortillas come to mind when Mexico is mentioned, every January 6 the Mexicans love for bread comes to the fore with the oval brioche cup decorated with candied fruit known as Kings Cakes for celebrate Epiphany.
MEXICO CITY – While tortillas come to mind when Mexico is mentioned, every January 6 Mexicans’ love of bread is showcased with the oval brioche cup decorated with candied fruit known as cakes of kings to celebrate Epiphany.
Just hours before Mexicans took their first slices, hundreds of customers gathered amid the overwhelming smell of fresh bread at one of Mexico City’s oldest bakeries to purchase their kings cakes, known as name of “rosca de reyes”. The Ideal bakery, founded in 1927, lives in the former San Francisco el Grande convent in the center of the capital.
Among the crowd was Dalia Hernández, a 34-year-old housewife who was overjoyed to return to the bakery after being left out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite a further rise in infections, authorities in the capital have so far allowed companies like Ideal to continue welcoming customers. Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, however, canceled the tradition of the king’s giant cake sliced in the city’s central square for the second year in a row.
“I really missed coming to the bakery,” Hernández said. “Last year only my husband came, but this time we all came because it’s part of a family tradition.” She said the tradition of cakes has persisted because they are “part of our culture, of our identity as Mexicans”.
The cakes of kings have their origins in 14th century France and Spain and arrived in Mexico with the conquest.
Even though this is a seasonal treat eaten only during the first few days of January, it is something that all levels of Mexican society enjoy, which keeps demand high, said Oswaldo Tapia, chef. from NTD Ingredients.
“Rosca de reyes is a traditional food that I think probably won’t go away, as Mexicans are bread lovers,” said Tapia, who has been cooking for three decades. Mexico added their own touches, giving it an oval shape and often filling it with cream.
Traditionally, Mexicans decorated their kings cakes with acitron, a candied element of a particular type of cactus. But the government banned this in 2005 due to the impact on the species. Other fruits are now substituted.
Inside the cakes are the figurine of a baby supposed to represent a baby Jesus. The person who finds the figurine in its slice is supposed to buy tamales for everyone present on February 2, another Christian holiday.
Inside the Ideal Bakery on Wednesday, Ana Morales, a 54-year-old businesswoman, recalled walking through the building’s patio as a child. Her family lived in the upper part of the building, so she woke up every morning to the smell of baked bread.
“This place is fascinating, beautiful,” she said. “To come today for a real rosca is to experience a beautiful feast of kings.
“The truth is, whoever doesn’t eat rosca de reyes … doesn’t know Mexico,” Morales said. “It’s the taste of Mexico. It is a tradition and a privilege to still be able to savor bread.
AP video journalist Fernanda Pesce contributed to this report.