Gringo in Guadalajara

Bread Lovers

Supermarkets in Guadalajara are similar to U.S. markets, with one very noticitable difference: The panaderia, or bread section.  Every supermarket in Guadalajara has a large area offering a variety of pan.  Of course, pan means "bread" in Spanish but the definition here is a bit looser than what we are used to in the States.  It includes rolls, baguettes, muffins, bagels, croissants, pastries and a wide selection of so-called pan dulces, which are pretty much any type of pan that will ruin your diet.  As in an American bakery, the pan dulces (literally, sweet bread) include all types of frosting, sprinkles, chocolate, jellies, sugar and other such sweets.

The panaderia is a requirement for every Mexican supermarket.

Mexicans are also a bit more concerned with hygene in the supermarket.  In the bread section, touching the bread is definitely frowned upon, even if you are simply grabbing a roll to put in a bag.  Instead, there is a rather strict procedure that needs to be followed...  Each supermarket has a stack of wide circular metal trays --- almost like pizza pans. Next to the trays are a great many large metal tongs.  As you shop for your pan, you pick up each item with the tongs and place it on your tray.  You then bring the entire tray full of bread to a worker behind a counter who weighs, prices and puts the pan in a paper bag for you to carry to the main checkout.  The workers are equally hygiene conscious --- they wear plastic gloves and a nurse's-style mouth guard to cover their mouth.

Even given this perhaps overly-developed sense of bread sanitation, any Mexican supermarket out-pans it's American counterpart.

A man shops for pan in a Mexican supermarket.