Is Mexican Pan Dulce Really French?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] And do Mexicans still respect the famous math teacher Jaime Escalante?

DEAR MEXICAN: What's the story with Mexican pastries? Like most cultures, Mexicans seem to be cribbing from the French, but pan dulce just winds up tasting like a dinner roll with a little icing on top. So many other parts of Mexican cuisine emphasize strong flavors. Why must the best part of the meal be so bland?

Un Bolillo

DEAR FRENCH ROLL GABACHO: You're being a bit harsh. Mexican pan dulce (sweet breads for those who don't habla) is as varied as Mexican skin tones, from the conchas (the ones that look like sea shells—hence, their name) to empanadas (turnovers stuffed with everything from apples to pumpkin to coconut cream and strawberries) to rosca de reyes (the pan dulce offered during the Feast of the Epiphany that's essentially a ring of sugar upon sugar) to that pan dulce with a top layer consisting solely of candy sprinkles. But you're right to note that most pan dulce appears to originate from French pastries—because that's true. You can blame two historical porquerías for this: the occupation by Emperor Maximilian that also brought Mexico the waltzes danced during quinceañeras, and the Porfiriato, the long reign of Mexican President Porfirio Díaz in which he tried to modernize Mexico by trying to act French and giving away land to the evil gabachos. I personally don't have a problem with pan dulce being a mestizo version of French yummies—this is Mexico, after all, a country borne from the mixing of foreign cultures—but I always like to point out pan dulce's roots to people who still insist there's such a thing as "authentic" Mexican food. Their equivocations in trying to justify this sweet, inconvenient truth after having blasted a Tex-Mex combo plate as not authentically Mexican is as laughable as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto trying to appear as anything other than the pendejo he is.

*     *     *

DEAR MEXICAN: I was wondering how the Mexican-American population regards Jaime Escalante and his legacy as an educator. In my mind, he is a civil rights pioneer, in that he urged his Mexican-American students to break through the unofficial caste system existing in the United States, wherein Mexicans would have to work lower-paying and lower-skilled jobs than their white counterparts. Many of his students are lawyers, doctors and educators. Is there a consensus among Mexican-Americans that Escalante was nothing short of a hero because of the high standards he placed on his students?

Michael From Menifee

DEAR GABACHO: If only. The sad verdad is that Escalante—whose story was immortalized in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, which has been seen by every Mexican high school student in class at least twice a year ever since—is only universally admired by his former students nowadays. Chicano yaktivists dismiss him because he was a strong opponent of bilingual education and palled around with conservatives; Freire pedagogical types find his teaching methods not radical enough. There's an elementary school in the working-class city of Cudahy named after him, sure, but that's about it in terms of public respect—and if that doesn't exemplify the Chicano concept of crabs in a bucket, I'm not sure what can.

 
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31 comments
PaulyWalnuts
PaulyWalnuts

Good article here Gustavo! Chicano Yaktivist! Ha!

Daniel Castillo
Daniel Castillo

Of course pan dulce is french, most Mexicans or Chicanos don't give two shits to study their own heritage or history, the Germans, the Spanish and the Swiss also had a huge impact in Mexico, from cheese and cream making, to dance and music!!

Patrick De Mendoza
Patrick De Mendoza

Is It good..... yes! Shut up an eat it. Another stupid article ....

HUUUGE_JOHNSON
HUUUGE_JOHNSON

I KNEW IT….BUNCH OF TORTILLA EATIN' SURRENDER MONKEYS! 

Marc Morin-Lebel
Marc Morin-Lebel

Merci bien, nous sommes content et nous aimons aussi les pattiseries mexicaines. ;-)

Douglas Sanchez
Douglas Sanchez

"You're like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't even there". Classic.

Miguel Berumen
Miguel Berumen

Well if we are going to get critical and analytical, we can conclude that all bread is Middle Eastern (Levant region) since wheat originated there, making it's way into Europe and around the world.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

The Aztecas and Indijenous people thought the french how to make real Pan Dulce! The french didnt teach us crap.

Jim Alvarez
Jim Alvarez

We received many foods from the French and German and Irish music and then mixed it with our Indian food and colors with chocolate, vanilla, pecans, garlic, coffee, turkeys, pig and horses brought back from the Spanish explores coming through El Paso and settling as they walked up to Colorado and introduced the religion and built many Missions along the including having the first Thanksgiving in El Paso 19 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Rock which has been tought to all of us but the truth has been that the Spanish and the Tigua Indians that had a feast because 128 people died crossing the desert of Northern Mexico.

Tammy Osuna-Burton
Tammy Osuna-Burton

There is much french influence in many foods in southern Mexico, truffles even. ;) I wonder if anyone is going to ask about the origin of the piñata? (China) The mantilla, possibly from the women of Muslim faith.

Angel Mariscal Jr.
Angel Mariscal Jr.

Cecilia don't take this the wrong way but el maestro escalante was not Mexican. He was from Bolivia.

Cecilia Rojas
Cecilia Rojas

Well French people I have given pan dulce to have loved it and they have told me it reminds them of French pastries, but we have definitely made it our own . Jaime Escalante was an educated, passionate Mexican educator, I definitely admire him.

Juan Berber
Juan Berber

IDK, If pan dulce is de Mexico or not but asi crecio mi familia desayunando con pan dulce por las mañanas, y ata la fecha, Gracias French people for bringing this goodies to my contry!

Lynn Maners
Lynn Maners

You touched briefly on the dances introduced by the French. They were so popular that they made it all the way to La Frontera. O'odham "waila" bands on both sides of the border play waltzes, polkas, Shottishes, and mazurkas...

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Unlike american food which is totally home-grown and has never borrowed anything from anyone.

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Compensating, a little, there, son?

atviflav
atviflav

"Head coverings" (mantilla) as you mentioned, have been worn for centuries. Even by non-muslims. It wasn't until that 19th century, or so, that western women begin to drop this custom. However, this can still be seen in the Mennonite, Amish, Brethren and Hutterite cultures within the U.S., where the women cover their heads at all times. Remember, these are non-Muslim people, however they are strongly rooted in their faith (Christian), and assume that their wearing of these coverings is as religiously rooted as those who follow Islam religiously (no pun intended). Funny enough, we now tie head coverings to Islam specifically. This makes about as much sense as tying all mustaches specifically to Bolsheviks.

1 Corinthians 11:5, which says, Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. The early Christian women veiled their heads not only in church, but also anytime they were in public.

In the U.S. it wasn't uncommon to see a woman in church with at least a bonnet on, during the 1960's, but just like many other things that are done in repetition without actual teachings as to "Why?", it began to lose it's meaning and the  "hat" in church for women was lost for the most part in the western world.

It becomes really hard to justify something being done a certain way when the explanation becomes "It's done this way, because it's always been done this way. That's why." You know what I mean?

On a similar note, growing up as a male within the Catholic church, I was always taught that it was disrespectful for a male to enter a church with his hat on. I would assume that this has more to do with proper etiquette though, as it's considered improper for a man to wear a hat indoors anywhere... but as we can see with today's youth/culture, it's something that's been lost to time because it was no longer taught as etiquette, but rather "It's just how it's always been done."

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

As you're apparently aware, cultures borrow from each other, have always and will always do so.

gramene
gramene

She said he "educated" Mexicans, not that he "was" no...

Jay440
Jay440

Your fact is true, but BillxT was being sarcastic. :-)

BillxT
BillxT topcommenter

Next he's going to be claiming that California used to be part of Mexico, or some such silliness.

 
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