Mérida, Yucatán — For the 22nd consecutive year, bakers from six of the city’s most iconic hotels put their culinary skills to the test Friday to create the southeast’s largest Rosca de Reyes. It’s a Three King’s Day-eve tradition.
Together, the ring-shaped loaf, signifying the Epiphany, was a difficult-to-fathom two kilometers (1.24 miles) long, they said. It was laid out on numerous tables that looped around the perimeter Avenida Colon, between the Paseo de Montejo and Calle 60. It was divided into 25,000 servings, sold at 30 pesos apiece, all distributed to charitable civic associations.
Preparations for the event began in October, when the chefs begin their collaboration, figuring out ingredients and logistics. Together, the Hyatt Regency, Fiesta Americana, Holiday Inn, Presidente Intercontinental, El Conquistador and Wyndham contributed 15,000 eggs, 270 liters of milk, 2,400 kilos of flour, 100 kilos of dried fruit and 250 kilos of yeast.
The celebration is a Mexican tradition that takes place 12 days after Christmas, give or take a few days in workplaces, and every Jan. 6 in private homes with family. The Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrating the appearance of the Wise Men or Magi Kings: Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar.
A traditional Rosca is topped with colorful, jellied fruit and is inserted with a tiny plastic trinket representing the baby Jesus. Whoever is served the slice with the trinket must return Feb. 2, on the Día de la Candelaria, and have a dinner party for the same guests. The Rosca in the hotel zone had 300 tiny trinkets buried within, which entitled the bearer to a Rosca to take home, a toy, or a meal at one of the hotels.
Families gathered at 5 p.m. Friday for a taste. Raffle prizes, such as dinner at participating hotels, were also awarded. Live music was performed on a stage at the end of the street. Festivities continued until 10.
Lower temperatures have been attributed to a 10 percent increase in Rosca de Reyes sales this year because the bread is a comforting cold-weather treat.
The loaf’s prices have risen around 10 percent as well, to anywhere from 65 to 220 pesos, depending on the size and ingredients.
Sources: La Jornada Maya, Diario de Yucatán