Saturday mornings in a quiet neighborhood on San Antonio’s Westside means bustling business at locally-owned panadería, Panífico. Old folks from down the street and families with little kids huddle before the walls of shelves of their favorite pan dulce. The old folks move slowly through the chattering throng and chat with the lady at the counter, catch up on the news from the barrio.
You hear laughter or people humming or singing along to the cumbia audible from behind the kitchen door. Kids press their faces against the glass or point to their favorite treat. Parents seem to eye their own favorites, too. There is something for everyone who frequents this small establishment on 24th Street – semita, cuernos and conchas, fruit or cream cheese empanadas, maranitos, regalos and ojo de Pancha with its crusty edges and soft spongy cake center. The secret is egg whites whipped up fluffy and light.
The neighborhood feels most like “home” for some of us on this side of town because of this bakery – this is where we come for daily bread or tortillas, the three-tiered birthday cake for the quinceañera, the cookies and cupcakes for your kids’ classroom, the one-of-each box for the gang at work.
Now, signs are posted on the store window announcing shorter hours and soon-to-be-limited inventory of these confectionary favorites. The egg crisis that originated in the Midwest has come to South Texas.
Texas’ behemoth grocery chain, HEB, is rationing eggs, allowing only three dozen per customer at a time. Prices are going up and up on many of the nationally known products they carry that contain eggs. It’s all encompassing. Texas-based chain Whataburger has shortened its breakfast menu schedule by six hours. And state and national chain restaurants are following suit. Processed food maker Krispy Kreme has witnessed a 200 percent spike in the cost of egg products used to make their donuts.
And what about the little mom and pop panadería that features Spurs donuts – a big treat from this small store that feels like home?
The egg. So simple a staple. A metaphorical beginning. To what end? The global reach of this crisis somehow connects us all. Maybe that means that every place can be home.