Facturas: A Guide To Argentina’s Breakfast Pastries

Nearly every other block in Buenos Aires has a panaderia (bakery). The bakers wake up extra early to cook and fully stock up their inventory. It’s an unavoidable smell every morning and it’s great. All the good bakeries have a line and sometimes a number system in the early morning waiting to get the freshest inventory. You’re given a pair of tongs and a basket.

It’s a buffet of pastries row after row all smelling so delicious that it’s really difficult to know which ones to choose with such a huge selection. Usually, there’s a poster that says if you buy a dozen, you get a deal. I’m always tempted to buy twelve but I know I couldn’t finish it without another four people to help. I can usually eat about four before I give up.

The most popular pastries are Facturas. Bakeries are full of them but it’s also easy to find in supermarkets and cafes which often come with coffee. They are most often purchased by the dozen and shared among friends or co-workers with mate. It’s origins are from Europe and are similar to Danish pastries. They are covered in sugar so prepare for a massive amount. The most popular fillings dulce de lechecustard (crema pastelera), and quince paste (dulce de membrillo) — all three being my favorite. They come in different shapes and sizes as well with each of them having a separate name for the type.

The names of the facturas though are interesting.

On July 18, 1887 in Buenos Aires, an Italian anarchist named Ettore Mattei, created the Resistance Cosmopolitan Society and Placement of Workers Bakers. He lived in Argentina between 1885 and 1889 and was commissioned to draw up their constitutions. Errico Malatesta was commissioned to draw up their constitutions but in 1889, he leaves Argentina, leaving behind the militant union that he helped organize. The anarchists had to hide in Argentina due to their views and ideals.

Between 1894 and 1930, the society edited the newspaper El Obrero Baker using irony and sarcasm to name their pastries against the government and superpowers. The names soon became commonly used and even the churches became selling the pastries with all of them taunting the police.

The facturas no longer hold the same meaning as they once did but the history and names are still used.

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