Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Bun For The Money?

We were in Pátzcuaro's alluring Mercado Soriana yesterday morning, picking up a few necessities (eg, 12 bottle cartons of Cerveza Nochebuena at 2 for 1 pricing) when we wandered over to the panadería section. At that hour there wasn't much fresh bread available, but there were some French style "pistolets" (usually called "bolillos" in Mexico, some teleras, the flatter oval rolls with two longitudinal creases, only one seeded baguette, and quite a few round, sesame topped rolls. The latter looked something like overly plump hamburger bins or uncreased Kaiser Rolls.

I started to put 4 of the round rolls on my tray, then saw the price card. I mistakenly thought that each one was 5 pesos, which is a high price here. But after some careful analysis using elementary decimal fractions, I understood that they were only 50 centavos, or 1/2 peso each. The bolillos and teleras were the same price, if I recall, and the lone baguette was 90 centavos. Eight cents.

Think about that. They cost about 4 1/2 ¢ each. No other bakery that I've been to sells bread at so low a price. Is it a function of buying power and production efficiencies, or are they undercutting the other stores and traditional panaderías with very aggressive pricing? I suspect the latter, and selling at under the cost of ingredients and labor. In my view, such practices are not limited to the well-hated (except by Mexican customers who throng to shop there) "Octopus of the North", Wal-Mart.

By the way, the rolls were plain but good, and we made some tasty sandwiches on them. For our dessert, we had some miniature pastries, based on cupcakes, which are very prettily fashioned and sell for only 4.5 pesos each. That's about 42¢. One, a fake whipped cream-filled Baba, was ok, but an elaborated "Hostess" cupcake, topped with a glazed strawberry half was unappetizingly dry. A nut-glazed cuernito is pretty tasty, especially when warmed in the toaster oven.

I guess you generally get what you pay for.


Michael Dickson said...

It´s just capitalism, Mike. Generally works real well.

Don Cuevas said...

That's realistic, Michael (Dickson.)


::Alejandro:: said...

Looks like 2008 is starting off well on your blog, Mike. Glad to read you again, it's been a while. You write well, and there was at least twice on your most recent posts that had me bursting out in laughter.

Ah, the 'assorted viscerae' of traditional Latin American markets, gotta love that stuff.

This blogging thing has its ups and downs, I know because I left mine alone for a while, but I too am back with a bang this month, the good thing is no one pays us (at least, not yet) for doing this so we have no one to answer to but our readers.

¡Saludos desde la ciudad de Los Angeles!


Don Cuevas said...

Gracias, Alejandro.
I have a few readers (who comment), but they are good ones.
I have Michael Dickson reading fairly regularly, and now you.
I really appreciate that. My blogging is irregular, also, but I recently had a burst of energy afer a slow Summer.

The most recent entry was a a "Bust in the Dust" sort of thing, relating a small but sangriente accident that befell me. It's on my other active blog, "Surviving La Vida Buena" at


GreggR said...

Hi Michael, add me to your list of readers.
I'm glad for the new posts!
Thank you.
I am Emily Lopez's father.
Grandfather to young Marcos.

Kathleen Parker said...

Oh Michael! Darin and I were lucky enough to get 2X1 on the Noche Buena as well! That bread sounds too cheap, and definitely not integral!