When I go to the panaderia (bakery) on Thursday evenings to get my pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread), I think about my maternal grandfather who once owned and operated a panaderia in Agua Prieta. It was called Letty’s, named after my mother.
I never went to it and never have seen it in pictures. I wish I did, and I do think about it when I go into La Mejor, each Thursday evening. It’s my favorite panaderia in Agua Prieta. Small, and quaint looking. It’s on a little block right off the main entrance from the port of entry.
There isn’t much left on the block. The rest of the buildings are abandoned, discolored, and somewhat falling apart. In between them, La Mejor stands out because of its nicely painted business name, right on the wall, over the door and window.
That’s about all you see. In the United States, we have high expectations for our dining and food establishments. They should be spotless. The windows, crystal clean. The floors washed, the cashier a machine to run our cards through before we write our names with an index finger.
That’s not La Mejor. What it has going for it is a consistent offering of the best variety of pan dulce. The kind with different colored glazes, shapes that are long and narrow, circles with fillings, empanadas (turnovers), and one of my favorites — cochitos. They are the dark colored, ginger flavored, pig shaped kind that always go best with a cup of milk or a cup of coffee.
When you walk into La Mejor, which means The Best, a nice lady greets you behind the counter. You grab a round metal tray and tongs before you make your way through each display case opening and closing the see through doors as you try to control your urge to get one of everything.
Some people go in and they know exactly what they want. They might go straight to the pan birote box, a type of Mexican sourdough bread that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside that always goes great with caldos or to eat as sandwiches. The birote is piled deep in a large wooden box.
Others go for the conchas, probably the most traditional of all Mexican pan dulces. They come in three different color toppings that make them look like seashells. I like the pink ones the most.