We’ve just come across an article in Mexico’s El Financiero covering the five oldest bakeries in Mexico City that are must-sees.
The first on the list, and the oldest, is La Vasconia, quite an institution in the city, founded in 1870, 151 years ago. As can be presumed, it was founded by a Basque, Marcelino Zugarramurdi, who emigrated from Navarre to Mexico City in the second half of the 19th century. It is unsure where he was from, as different sources state Pamplona or the Baztan Valley, but given his relationships and connections, we tend towards the latter.
This bakery has not only a long history, but a long history of success. Its founder started with a small storefront, and today, the bakery occupies 700 m² (7,500 sqft) where they have a wide variety of breads, pastries, rotisseries, and even a restaurant.
We were immediately reminded of an article we wrote ten years ago telling the story of some Basques from the Baztan Valley who became renowned bakers in Mexico City, and went on to found the Modelo Brewery, which now dominates 60% of the domestic market, not to mention exports, as they sell the world-renowned Corona brand of beer.
The main driver of that brewery was Elizondo-born Braulio Iriarte Goyeneche, who arrived in Mexico in 1877, at the age of 17 (quite possibly in an attempt to avoid having to serve in the military, which had become compulsory in Navarre in 1841 with the Ley Paccionada, which was a consequence of having lost the Carlist wars).
The stories of Braulio Iriarte and the La Vasconia Bakery are linked by more than a likely common place of origin between the former and the founder of the latter. In 1900, Andrés Barberena Urrutia, born in 1880 in Garralda, in the Aezkoa Valley, parallel to the Baztan, arrived in Mexico to take charge of the bakery. Andrés Barberena Urrutia married the daughter of Braulio Iriarte, and would end up becoming one of the most important businessmen in the Mexican baking industry.
This group of Basques related by bakeries and beer were also very active in the Mexico City Basque Center, as part of its management board.
Along with the article in El Financiero, we’ll also leave you with another one published by the MXCity guide about this historic bakery, and a link to the book Bakers and Basques: A Social History of Bread in Mexico, by Robert Weis (in English).
El Financiero – 2/1/2022 – Mexico
5 panaderías antiguas de la CDMX que debes conocer
Con poco más de 150 años de historia, La Vasconia permanece como un pedacito de esa metrópoli de antes. Fue fundada en 1870 por Marcelino Zugarramurdi, quien era originario de País Vasco, una comunidad autónoma de España, de ahí viene el nombre de esta panadería.
MXCity -7/2019 – Mexico
LA PANADERÍA VASCONIA, 150 DELICIOSOS AÑOS DE HISTORIA EN EL CENTRO HISTÓRICO
Vasconia es un término cultural, político y antropológico que designa la comunidad cultural y antropológica vasca. Ha tenido diferentes connotaciones según el momento histórico, siendo utilizado en general equivalente al término vasco Euskal Herria. En México, Vasconia es sinónimo de pan y ha sido el sabor preferido de la gente por más de 140 años, cuando las panificadoras en el siglo XIX habían cerca de 30 en la Ciudad de México, de las cuales siete eran de origen español. Para 1890, el número de panaderías se triplicó con la llegada de los baztaneses; Baztan es un un valle entre los Pirineos y Pamplona, que emigraron hacia México y encontraron un lugar para vivir en el Centro Histórico.
By Robert Weis