Mexico has plenty of desserts and candies – but the most popular, visible ones aren’t worth much praise.
Since arriving in Mexico, I’ve read a lot about “comida chatarra,” aka junk food. On nearly every commercial block, you see chips, chili-covered candy, chocolates, and nuts with a crunchy sugary “grapiñado” coating. Pre-packaged little cakes “pan dulces” have their own section in convenience stores.
Given the overwhelming obesity problem here, the government has been trying to limit school children’s access to these foods. But that ain’t easy, considering millions of people (my guess) sell them every day.
So it’s not like Mexico lacks desserts. But sugary treats with artificial flavoring have completely overrun the world of traditional sweets.
So it was nice to hear about Mexican pastry chef Fany Gerson, who wrote an entire cookbook of classic Mexican dessert and candy recipes, which came out in 2010. I interviewed Gerson in January (here is page 1 and here is page 2).
Gerson lives in New York City and worked as a pastry chef in restaurants earlier in her career. But knowing that so many Mexican family recipes are passed down orally and never written, she dreamed of creating a great tome to preserve her country’s dessert traditions.
Gerson has also founded her own Mexican popsicle “paletas” business called La Newyorkina in New York City. So she’s further ensuring that sweet tooths discover the glorious Mexican flavors of Mango with chili and horchata.
On a side note, I will add, I think my favorite Mexican candy thus far is the “borrachito.” Each one is a small wad of sugar-coated, almost gummy-like dough with liquor in it. I bought a package of “tres leches”-flavored treats in Guanajuato, and finished all 50 or so in ten days. No regrets.
Photos courtesy of Gerson’s publisher Ten Speed Press.