Bread has been an essential part of Latin American traditions for centuries. It is a staple food at any Latino dinner table because of its ability to accompany any meal, any time of the year.
Bread, or “pan” in Spanish, can be served as a toast to accompany your breakfast before work. It can be turned into a sandwich or served on the side with a hot cup of soap for lunch or enjoyed as an appetizer or even as a dessert for dinner. There are no limitations when it comes to bread. Bread comes in many forms, but what remains consistent is many cultures’ appreciation for the baked food product.
Here are a few examples of where to get authentic bread in Meriden and Wallingford from various Latin American countries . Maná Bakery
A small Mexican bakery on 518 Center St. in Meriden, this bakery is known in the town for its wide range of authentic Mexican pastries and other non-baked menu options like its quesadillas, taquitos and tamales. It’s also known for its welcoming atmosphere
The bakery’s most popular item may be its conchas, according to Jacqueline Gomez, who was getting breakfast with her coworkers recently at Maná before work at Ercolano Cleaning & Restoration in New Haven.
“(Conchas) are actually some of my favorites,” Gomez said. “They have different flavors so they are made with chocolate or strawberry or vanilla, it really depends on what you want.”
The traditional Mexican sweet bread is a staple in many Mexican bakeries. Its sweet outer layer is molded into a shell, making it instantly recognizable. Chocolate or vanilla are the most common flavors used for Mexican sweet bread. The colorful food item is a favorite for many because of its flaky dough paired with the streusel topping, often creating a buttery, sweet flavor.
Maná Bakery also serves cuernitos, which is another type of traditional Mexican sweet bread, or pan dulce. Cuernitos translates to “little horns” in Spanish. Like its name suggests, the pastry is shaped like a horn and is often compared to croissants. Though they don’t differ much in shape and baking techniques, the cuernito is made from brioche-type dough, while the croissant is a laminated pastry.
Unlike the concha, the cuernitos don’t come in other flavors. The bakery also serves traditional baked goods like muffins, cakes and various cookies. Elizabeth’s Artisan Bakery
This bakery is also known for its signature conchas at 13 William St. in Wallingford. The family-owned business’ menu also includes other signature Mexican goods like Mexican bolillos, a roll that’s soft on the inside and crusty on the outside, and tres leches cake.
Additionally, popular items for the bakery are its hard rolls and other bread recipes like its braided challah, which is made of eggs, flour, yeast and salt, and pumpernickel bread. The bakery also makes unique-shaped sweet bread for holidays and special occasions, like bread shaped like a sugar skull for Dia de los Muertos, for example. La PoblanitaGrocery & Deli
This grocery and deli on 39 Colony St. in Meriden also carries a diverse range of authentic Mexican grocery items such as breads, vegetables, sauces and cheeses. Also, it serves traditional Mexican cuisines like tacos, sopes and horchata. The restaurant and store also offer a selection of prepackaged genuine Mexican sweet bread like conchas, said co-owner Antonio Ponce.
The business is known for its welcoming, family-oriented atmosphere and devotion to delivering genuine Mexican products that make you feel at home. It expanded next door to make room for new tables to add to the existing tables in the small store and deli in 2019. CTown andCanastas Bakery
Lastly, supermarket chain CTownon 160 Colony St. offers a variety of pastries and breads from Canastas Bakery, a family-owned company based in Roselle, N.J., specializing in Mexican bread. The supermarket has a promotion where customers can purchase three pastries from the plastic case near the deli for $4.
Some of the pastries available are conchas, muffins, cornbread and mantecadas, a spongy pastry originating from Spain that is identifiable by the red cupcake liner and puffy top, among other pan dulce.
In addition, next to the pastries lives the prepackaged bread like pan la paz, which are palm-sized loaves with natural Ecuadorian flavors and Ecuadorian rosquitas, little rings with notches that shape the bread. Pan Del Sinai II
Finally, from its flan and cheesecake to quesitos, a Puerto Rican cream cheese pastry, Pan Del Sinai II, a small Puerto Rican bakery on 47 Colony St. in Meriden, has a wide range of sweet options. It’s just down the road from CTown is very close to La Poblanita Grocery & Deli. The deli also offers pan de agua or pan sobao, Puerto Rican water bread. The Puerto Rican favorite only uses four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. The bread is often used to make sandwiches and is known for its soft and fluffy consistency.
According to owner Carmen Zeledon, Pan Del Sinai II has been a staple in the community for around 20 years. Aside from its baked goods, the deli is also known for its wide variety of sandwiches ranging from pernil, or roast pork; a Cubano, which is a combination of roast pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese and sour pickles; to a Mi Cielo, which is a combination of roasted pork, pastrami and bistec.
“Mostly (all the menu items) are popular,” Zeledon said with a smile.