Like any other day weekday, I took the train to work. Like any other day at the office, I made myself a cup of hot tea before settling in at my desk. But — unlike any other day — there was a cardboard FedEx box sitting on my desk.
The package came from San Diego, originating from the offices of a company called MexGrocer.com. Wrapped inside was a beautifully decorated pastry, circular in shape and about 10 inches in diameter. Delighted by what I saw, I took off the plastic packaging and a sweet aroma filled the room.
A few days ago, I was told I’d be receiving a little surprise from MexGrocer.com, so I did a little research into the company.
I discovered that MexGrocer.com is the largest on-line grocery store for authentic Mexican food and food-related items, and also one of the oldest, dating to 2000. They carry items ranging from cooking ingredients to candy to household products. They even offer authentic Mexican cooking utensils such as the molcajete, a traditional mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone and hard to find outside Mexico. A newsletter provides authentic Mexican recipes with ingredients they will ship to your door via UPS, USPS and FedEx. To date, MexGrocer.com has served customers in more than 15,000 cities in all 50 states of the U.S.
The yeast bread wreath was decorated with a colorful assortment of sugar-dried papaya, apples, and cherries. Layered on top were deep red strips of candied fruit, followed by a good helping of brown sugar. After perusing some of MexGrocer’s most interesting products, I decided to eat the pastry while reading about it, as a pastry this elaborate must have some history associated with it.
Rosca de Reyes and The Three Kings
This particular delicacy is called the Rosca de Reyes, or “King’s Cake.” It celebrates the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day when the Three Kings or Wise Men visited Baby Jesus and brought gifts of precious gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In Mexican homes, the bread is a traditional treat on Epiphany when it is enjoyed with friends and family over a frothy cup of hot chocolate. Because Mexico is overwhelmingly Catholic, the holiday and the bread are steeped in Biblical symbolism.
The circular shape represents the round-about route the Holy Family took to escape King Herod’s men, who sought to kill the Christ child. Even the colorful candied fruit has a meaning, for baked inside the bread is a tiny plastic baby doll that represents little Jesus. The fruit symbolizes the sweet pleasures of the world that distract us from the Savior. The person who finds the little doll in his or her helping of rosca becomes a godparent to the baby and must host a party on el día de la candelaria or Candlemas, February 2nd, for all those who shared the bread on Epiphany.
I bit into the tender, flaky pastry and found myself in sugar heaven. The aroma wafted over to everyone else in the office and they quickly began taking slices of it for themselves.
I was very impressed with the quality and freshness of the bread, especially since it was a perishable food sent across the country.
From now on, when I want authentic Mexican products, I’ll go first to Mexgrocer.com.