Being a Puerto Rican in Sacramento, a lot of Mexican traditions and foods have been adopted by my family. Menudo, posole, rellenos and homemade corn tortillas. No, Puerto Ricans don’t eat tortillas. I have been coming to La Esperanza since I was in my mother’s womb and she’d been woofin’ down pan dulce from Esperanza since her family made the move from Puerto Rico.
Walking passed the paleta freezer and all of the vibrant coloured wedding cakes and religious candles, you can be tempted to get sidetracked if you don’t know what your sole mission is. Mine? Churros. And I think my hiatus from Sacramento kind of made me forget about La Esperanza, until one Sunday morning when I got the craving for churros. Mmmm. A fresh and spongy hot mess of cinnamon and sugar, hold the crema. Hold your place in line. You’ll be waiting for a while.
I don’t remember this place as packed as it has been lately, even on the weekdays it’s insanely packed. The over population of Sacramento is really starting to show. I’ve also been noticing more and more non-brown faces in the crowd. The wait also adds anxiety and a sense of reward to your efforts. You start to watch the bakers through a crack of a slightly ajar door, watching them feverishly remove parchment paper from lukewarm sponge cake, slather it with quality raspberry jam and roll it into a log, getting them prepared for their imminent romp into shredded coconut where they become ninos. You’re abruptly distracted from your distraction when the counter people shout, “Next!” You hussle up to the crystal clear glass enclosure, stare down at what seems like an endless display of aesthetically exciting options, and quickly order. “Dame dos de: puerquitos, ninos, mantecadas, churros, povlorones rosa, y ‘lotes.” And then your total cost is like $4.
I have yet to find a panaderia in the bay area that can compete. None can compete with quality, quantity and because this is the bay, price. La Esperanza has been consistent throughout my entire life. I feel a nostalgic attachment to this place that will keep me returning like a fiend. Hell, this is the only place in Sacramento where I can find an AFFORDABLE sugar skull for my Dia de los Muertos altars.