The line on Friday morning was nearly out the door. Bowie Bakery in Segundo Barrio sits on a sunlit corner, its white adobe gleaming. The neighborhood is full of tiny adobe apartments and homes, creamscicle-colored, pink, purple, and white all blazing in sun. This is an old, old neighborhood, and in decades past, a place of disease, violence and poverty. But today it is lovely, and I want to roam. It doesn't feel like the U.S. Two and a half blocks down the road is the narrow Rio Grande and then Mexico. In the opposite direction, the rest of El Paso and the Franklin Mountains.
But my time is short as I have an appointment later, and I need to get in line. Spanish is spoken here, but the clerk makes me and my English feel welcome. Amazed by the vast selection of Mexican pastries, I decide to ask for what I know: empanadas.
"What kind do you have?"
"Cream, yam, apple, pineapple."
I'm here to sample, so I say, "one of each," and to avoid the appearance of gluttony, "to go."
The bill is $3.10.
Back in my car, I survey the half moons of pastry...some simple and unadorned with rough dough exteriors. Others are shiny with egg glaze and patterned by the slashes of a knife before baking. I rip open the first. Cream. This is what I like about Mexican pastries: even with a pastry cream filling, they're not too sweet. I lick the little drip oozing from the center and take a bite, then two. I nod. Good.
Then onto the yam. Also good. Then the pretty shiny empanadas--obviously the apple and pineapple. Each get a bite. Satisfied that this is a place I can recommend to travelers, I regretfully roll up the bag, sorry I won't finish off the jumble of half-eaten pastries inside. Next time, I'll try something new, and eat the whole thing.