On a recent trip to Merida in the Yucatan I saw something that I don’t think I have seen for a long time. Ice cream for breakfast with an espresso. Yup, ice cream for breakfast. I was walking into the Main Plaza at 9 am in the morning looking for a coffee after a long morning walk, and that is when I witnessed this indulgent behavior.
But I got it. The city was already heating up. At 9:00 am it was 36C and if you were not in the shade, it was hot. By noon on an April sunny day it reached 38C to 39C.
The Merida way to cool off, as this is an inland city, was ice cream and paletas. Everywhere I went, everywhere I walked, I saw people eating ice cream and the glorious fruit paletas Mexico is so famous for.
In the Main Plaza and just off Paseo de Montejo is Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón, a Merida institution for over 100 years. One evening after dinner I ventured in to the ice cream institution to indulge in this Merida tradition. And I was hooked. I don’t think I could do it for breakfast, but I sure could do it on a hot spring evening, a 30C hot evening in April.
The fruit sorbet was glorious. Served 1950’s style in a thick glass ice cream bowl, I loved the pitayaha (dragon fruit) sorbet, and also tried the pineapple. This is not ice cream as we know it. It is a true sorbet, or Italian gelato. Ohh La La, a glorious way to spend an evening in Merida.
Paletas are popsicles but made of real fresh fruit juice. The Merida ritual was to have this cold option in the mid afternoon as you walked. And there are lots of paletas to be found. My favorite paleta was again found in the Main Plaza at the Michoacon Aguas Frescas and Paletas shop. On the corner of 61 and 60th street you will find not only every flavor under the sun but also some of the best horchata I have ever had.
I adopted this Merida ritual as well, every afternoon. After a museum or some shopping I would find the closest paleta shop and treat myself to a fruit popsicle. The choice was hard, as I would have loved to had them all, but the fruit flavors were my favorite. If you walk the streets of Merida in the middle of the day, ice cream is not the midday choice, but paletas are, for both kids and adults. It is a great way to take the heat off.
Merida does not have the sweet luxury of a beach to ward off the heat of the day but I do love their way of cooling off. The Riviera Maya has great paletas as well in the older neighborhoods north of 46th street on 30th Avenue. Tulum has paletas off the main street in town, and lots of flavors to choose from. But we do have the beach to cool us off when ice cream or paletas cannot be found. Both activities are an indulgence that we love!