Morelia’s Mercado de Dulce
By Malcolm Callister
There should be a warning “Don’t enter this Marcado unless you can say No.”
In Morelia's, Mercado de Dulce, (The Candy Market), late in the afternoon, you are surrounded by the sounds of happy smiling Spanish speaking people. You experience the crush and push, of a Mexican Market place. Mouthwatering fragrances drift on the air. Your sense of smell is guiding you to one of the many Dulce stalls. Dulce manufactured from mainly local ingredients, is produced in a kaleidoscope of tastes and colors. It has been produced in the area, to supplement local farming, since the days of the Conquistadors.
How it began
Five-hundred years ago the Spanish Franciscan priests introduced the art of making candy (dulce) to villages around Morelia. The women and children could gather the local natural ingredients; honey, coconut, and sugarcane blended with the fruits and spices, grown here in the tropics. This produced additional family income. A typical conquistador clearly had a sweet tooth. Individual villages specialized in different candies. Morelia farming market evidently sold Dulce from the beginning. Dulce is now an international industry.
The pink stone colonial buildings of Morelia contrast with the dark limestone walkways giving this five-hundred-year-old city a distinctly Mediterranean feel.
Many colonial buildings are still used as churches and government buildings. Other colonial buildings, have kept their elegant outer façade with the arched colonnade and walkways, but have undergone significant interior reservations, converted into modern offices, shops, restaurants, and “The Dulce Market.”
Mercado de Dulce
Located separately there is a Museo del Dulce, where you can see how dulce was made 125 years ago using the machinery of the industrial revolution. However, five-hundred years ago the sweet candy known as dulce was made by hand, by the village women. In the Mercado de Dulce, you will not see dulce being made. You will, however, experience the Mercado, meet the Mexican people, listen to their language, smell and taste dulce in the authentic atmosphere. The hustle and bustle of todays marketplace will not be far removed how the conquistadors would have experienced it. Dulce, offered for sale by the smiling women, to men whos willpower was failing.
Many stores display the candy, still made to recipes provided by the Franciscan fathers. Sold in new packaging to compliment the naturally colored candy, making it almost irresistible, but I had willpower.
The willpower battle was lost when I was approached by a young woman. She offered a tray of assorted colored dulce delicacies for my taste testing. I avoided the hot chili pepper candy but still made several purchases.
A man it seems only has so much willpower.
As RVer’s staying near Lake Chapala, we had chosen to travel by bus to Morelia city center, for convenience. Big trucks and narrow Mexican streets do not go together.
M&L Tip of the Week:
Some Mexican cities and towns ban big trucks. Cark parks if they exist are not designed for them either. Check before you set out.