Panadería Mexicana at El Rinconcito Mexicano, 1961 SW 8th St., Miami
Despite being thousands of miles from their country, many Mexicans in Miami are celebrating the Day of the Dead. And in Little Havana, a bakery is helping them.
A couple from the Panadería Mexicana, or Mexican Bakery, at El Rinconcito Mexicano restaurant, located at 1961 SW 8th St., get up at 5 a.m. to bake the special bread of the Day of the Dead.
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Each loaf of bread is round, representative of the cycle of life, and the key ingredient is orange blossom. A skull sits in the center of each loaf and, toward the edges, the bread is molded in the shape of bones.
Jocelyn Mendoza, 34, and Jaime Reynoso, 41, have owned the bakery for 10 years. Ever since the first year, they’ve both been selling the bread during this time of the year.
“It’s a very beautiful tradition,” Mendoza said. “We don’t see death as something sad but on the contrary, as something cheerful.”
Mendoza said “Coco,” the movie produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released in 2017, attracted a lot of attention to that tradition. Personally, she has felt more people are observing the Day of the Dead in Miami this year.
The celebration takes place on Nov. 1 and 2, and is dedicated to honoring the deceased. During these two days, Mexicans visit the tombs of their loved ones in cemeteries and assemble altars for the deceased in their homes. The holiday involves placing food and drink on the altars, along with other items such as incense and candles.
The dead can be famous people, like the artist Frida Kahlo or the singer Juan Gabriel, as well as close relatives, like a grandmother or even a pet.
Mendoza and Reynoso started selling bread at the beginning of October only during weekends. Then, in mid-October, they started selling it every day.
Since Tuesday, the business has flourished. According to Reynoso, the bakery has sold approximately 1,500 loaves since then. The bakery is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., except on Fridays and Saturdays, which closes at 10 p.m. The business will sell the bread until Sunday.
There are two types of bread: the classic, which has sesame and sugar, and the salty, which only has sesame. There are three sizes: The small one costs $3, the medium one $6 and the big one $12.
Mendoza said that beyond thinking like business owners, she and her husband think like Mexicans when it comes to the Day of the Dead. The couple thinks about their responsibility to give Mexican immigrants in Miami a piece of what many left behind or do not have the opportunity to experience there.
“And to the people who do not know about it, we let them know about our tradition,” Mendoza said. “We’re proud of the tradition. I love it.”