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Mystery: The case of the Colombian pan dulce in Tena, Ecuador

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I was living in Tena, Ecuador from January thru March, and I often bought bread and cakes at the bakeries on Av. 15 de Noviembre. None of the bakeries were particularly outstanding though.

When I was back visiting Tena 3 weeks ago, I noticed a brand new bakery called Delicias de Colombia, about 1 block up from the pedestrian bridge on Avenida 15 de Noviembre. Not surprisingly, the owners are Colombian and they have lots of items that you don`t normally see at Ecuadoran bakeries. I ended up stopping there every time I walked by over the course of my 3 days there....they have very nice looking breads (sweet, cheese filled, salty, etc) and lots of sweets. I had a donut filled with custard and dulce de leche, topped with chocolate, also had several coconut cookies. But the best thing I ate there was something the woman at the counter simply called ¨pan dulce¨. The pan dulce was round, about the size of a donut, and the bread part of it was like a cross between bread and cake...not too sweet, but soft. Inside the bread was sweet dulce de guayaba (guava jelly) and on top, delicious vanilla frosting and some sprinkles. It cost 15 cents.

I was back in Tena this past Monday, and after arriving, I went back to the bakery in search of the pan dulce. They didn´t have any in the display case, and I asked the man behind the counter about them, and he didn`t know what I was talking about. Then the woman came out who had served me the pan dulce 3 weeks earlier, and she didn`t remember ever seeing it either. I carefully described the pan dulce to them, and they didn´t remember it at all. They said they would ask their baker about it, but sadly I wasn`t able to go back to the bakery, so I never got to try it again.

Probably this story just means that they have a creative baker who likes to try new things, which is always a good sign. They had all sorts of sweets and breads and there are probably other great things there that I haven`t tried. Luckily they did still have coconut cookies, and I enjoyed having that again.

When in Tena, Ecuador, this place is worth checking out! Chau...

Dave M.P.

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