Funny factura names (and their origin)

Would you eat a friar’s balls?

Probably not unless you are in Argentina and have a sweet tooth.

A pair of friar's balls: custard and dulce de leche

Facturas are, hands down, the most popular pastries in Argentina. They come in different sizes and shapes and with different fillings – dulce de leche, quince paste (dulce de membrillo) and custard (crema pastelera) are the most popular. People buy them by the dozen from their local panaderías (bakeries) for breakfast and for their mate break in the afternoon. Panaderias do a brisk trade on Sunday mornings, as many people follow the same ritual: get up, get the paper, buy facturas, put the kettle on for mate (or coffee) and sit down to a leisurely breakfast.

Almost every kind of factura has its own, self-descriptive name, like medialuna (a sweeter, denser, smaller croissant) or pancito de leche (milk bun).

However, some factura names have very interesting origins. In the late 19th century, a few European anarchists fled persecution and hid in Argentina. Some joined trade unions and started to spread their ideals, which wasn’t exactly met with alacrity by local authorities. The bakers’ trade union found an ingenious way to fight back. They came up with new names for facturas to ridicule the power elites.

Thus, bolas de fraile (friar’s balls), sacramento (sacrament) and suspiro de monja (nun’s sigh) were aimed at the clergy (extremely influential at the time), vigilante (watchman. It has a rather derogatory sense nowadays) was for the police and  bomba de crema (cream bomb) and cañoncito de dulce de leche (dulce de leche cannon) was for the military.