In English we say "good as gold." But in Spanish it's "good as bread."
And if you want bread that's good as gold, the place is the home of Jose and Felicitas Rubio in Provo.The Rubios - who run the El Azteca Restaurant in Provo - got a bit tired of the taste of American bread. ("It has a sweet taste to it," says Jose.) So the two of them decided to recreate the best breads of Mexico: "picon" (Pee-CONE) for instance, made from egg yolk and vanilla; and the familiar "concha" - a small, pink bread-cake that any tourist who's spent 20 minutes in Mexico will recognize.
"Personally, I love the picon," says Jose. "When I was small, my father would have picon bread every morning. Picon bread and chocolate. For holidays we always gave each other little figures made from picon bread. That bread is very important to both of us. After my wife made her first loaf of picon, I said `What gorgeous bread you make.' She said, `Thank you, but you're the only one who will appreciate it."'
Soon after beginning their bread works as a novelty, the Rubios were selling loaves to friends and fellow countrymen. Now they hope to expand into a full-time operation.
"My wife loves to bake bread. She loves it," says Jose. "When she makes more bread than we can sell, she gives it away."
"I always watched my mother closely," she adds. "And when I didn't find any Mexican bread here, I just did what I'd seen her do. Now I really enjoy baking. We have a daughter working for the Wall Street Journal in Mexico City. When we send her a package, I even put Mexican bread in that."
The Rubios came to the U.S. 26 years ago. They wanted good schools for their kids and - since they were in the restaurant business in Mexico - they felt they could make a stand here with their "Mexican antojitos."
"When we arrived all we saw were tacos," says Jose. "People think Mexican food is all tacos. So many people take Mexican food and commercialize it for American tastes. But we won't do that. We want people here to have the very best of our country. And that means Mexican food the way we make it in Jalisco."
In a philosophical footnote he adds: "When you do things right, every aspect of the business is a specialty. Sweeping the floors at night becomes just as big a specialty as making a good plate of beans."
One type of Mexican bread we didn't see around the Rubio kitchen was the Mexican "bolillo;" a small torpedo-looking loaf with a hard shell and innards that literally melt in your mouth.
"I understand you need a special machine to make that kind of bread," I said.
Jose Rubio smiled. "Oh, we have a special machine for it," he said. Then he gently patted his wife on the shoulder.