The Mighty Miga Sandwich at Confitería Caren

One legendary bakery is keeping a beloved sandwich-making craft alive

By Google Arts & Culture

Allie Lazar

Caren 1969 Miga by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Confitería Caren

Confitería Caren since 1969

In 1969, two brothers, Carlos and Enrique, opened Confitería Caren in the Recoleta neighborhood. Since then, the family has continued the confitería (bakery) tradition of making homemade pastries, cakes, cookies, and their infamous miga sandwiches. 

Caren Miga Close Up by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

Sándwiches de Miga

Caren is known for their layered crustless sándwiches de miga. “Miga” is the Spanish word for “crumb”, which means the internal part of the bread without the crust. Miga sandwiches can be compared to English tea sandwiches and Italian tramezzini. 

Caren MigaSelection by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Confitería Caren

The Origins

Some suggest that miga sandwiches were introduced by immigrants from Northern Italy, however, others claim they were invented at a Buenos Aires bakery during the early twentieth century. It is said that homesick British engineers were looking to satisfy their cravings for English tea sandwiches, and thus the sándwich de miga was invented.

Caren Ceci Augusto by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Confitería Caren

A Lost Craft

“Making the miga sandwich is a craft that is being lost,” Augusto Vázquez explains, who took over Confitería Caren from his father. Augusto was only 10 years old when the shop opened and has been working there for over 30 years. Caren has maintained the same recipes and quality products for over 50 years, with generations of loyal clients. Even though they offer classic offerings, Augusto’s daughter Cecilia helps out with social media to gain a younger clientele. 

Miga Maker Caren by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

Hugo López, Sandwich Maker by Trade

During the past 50 years, there have only been four master sandwich makers at Caren, each disciple learning the craft from his predecessor. Hugo López began working at Caren in 1984, when he was 16 years old. In 1988, he began making the miga sandwiches, and has been preparing them ever since. 

Miga Bread Caren by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

10 Kilo Bread Block Ready to Be Sliced

Not just anyone can make miga sandwiches, there are many tricks to the trade. Five giant bricks of bread arrive every day, weighing in at ten kilos each. While nowadays there are factories that send the bread precut, Caren believes in tradition, slicing the bread manually with a special machine to ensure the utmost freshness. 

Caren Miga slicingbread by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

Slicing the Bread

Hugo begins patting the bread block with water. Then, he uses a special knife to carefully slice the outer layer of crust. 

Caren Miga Bread Machine by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

The Bread Slicer

Hugo uses a special machine to slice the bread in equal parts. The sandwich layers must be a perfect size making sure to be thin, but not too thin so that the sandwich falls apart and becomes soggy. The result: fluffy and fresh bread slices with just the right amount of moistness. 

Caren Sandwich Orders by Allie Lazar and Laura Macías

25 Flavors

“In the morning I fill a tray, 8 sandwiches, of every flavor,” Hugo says. “Then, during the day, we keep making more fresh sandwiches depending on what flavors are being ordered.” Caren offers more than 25 different standard miga flavors, plus the sandwiches made to order.

Miga Tomatoes Caren by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

Assembling the Miga Sandwich

The triple layer sandwich usually has a base of mayonnaise and ham on the bottom layer, another layer of bread, and then topped with tomatoes, boiled egg, blue cheese and celery, hearts of palm with salsa golf, or roasted red peppers. 

Palmitos Salsa Golf Caren by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

Specialty Flavors

Other favorite flavors include chicken and celery, salami and cheese, pastrami and pickles, and Caprese with tomato, basil, and cheese. Clients can also request special orders and combinations as well.

Caren Miga Elevator by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Confitería Caren

Made to Order

Since Caren opened, the sandwiches have been made to order throughout the day. When an order comes in, the cashier calls Hugo, who is in the basement making sandwiches. Once Hugo prepares the special order and it is ready, he sends up the sandwiches in this elevator. 

Caren basement sandwich by Laura Macías, Allie Lazar, and Confiteria Caren

10 Million Sandwiches

Each 10-kilo loaf makes 120 sandwiches, and Caren estimates to have made over 10 million sandwiches over the years. What is Hugo's favorite sandwich? Salami and cheese.

Caren turron by Laura Macías and Allie Lazar

Turrón, Marrón Glacé, and Marzipan

During the 1970s, marzipan, marrón glacé (candied chestnuts), and turrón (nougat made from honey, egg whites, toasted almonds and covered in chocolate) were their greatest hits. Many other bakeries have since stopped making these classics, but Caren continues the same sweet legacy for generations of clients to enjoy. 

Caren Miga Huevo by Allie Lazar and Laura Macías

Miga Means Celebration

“When most people come to pick up sandwiches, they call it a ‘sandwichito’, a lovable nickname,” Augusto says. “Porteños and Argentines associate the miga sandwich with celebration. There’s always miga sandwiches at a birthday party, we eat them during happy times, and I think people associate Caren with those moments.” 

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