The paper bag on the left contains leftover pandesal from yesterday’s breakfast. They cost P1 apiece from the Bitonio Bakery at the nearby talipapa. We had quite a bit left over because Kuya Maui wasn’t around to finish them off.
The paper bag on the right contains today’s breakfast pandesal. Noticeably larger and presumably more nourishing, it also now costs P2 apiece. The bakers were profusely apologetic for this 100% increase, but tried to appease us by saying that the pieces were indeed bigger to match the price.
Who wouldn’t want anything bigger and better, one might ask. Today’s pandesal is bigger yes, but is it better? Looking at the picture above today’s pandesal does look at least 90% bigger than yesterday’s pandesal. But today’s pandesal is also noticeably softer (something which I cannot show you here, sad to say) than yesterday’s pandesal, and not because yesterday’s is “bahaw” or day-old as we say it in Visayan. Today’s pandesal is softer because there’s more air in it, meaning more leavening has been used with less flour.
We did get a warning more than two weeks ago, when the baking industry announced another possible price increase for bread due to rising flour costs.
“Yung tinatamaan maliit na panadero. Sana ang pamahalaan bigyan pansin ang suliranin ng panadero lalo ng maliit na bakery (This will hit small bakers the hardest. Government should look at their plight, especially the small bakeries),” Luisito Chavez, vice president of the Philippine Federation of Bakers said.
The Bitonio Bakery is one of those “maliit na panadero”. So this was expected. It still shocked us when it did happen, but we were warned.
The pandesal factor can be used to explain Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s much-touted “strong economy”. The bigger pandesal of today can be used to symbolize the high value of the peso today (see—it’s bigger!) compared to that of the past.
But are we actually getting more bread for our money? Or more air?