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A Blend of Sweets and History in Morelia, Michoacán: El Museo Del Dulce

by planetnomad on February 17, 2011

Any trip to Mexico is sure to provide a culturally rich experience. With the abundance of museums capturing its complex history and on display for the public, there’s a guaranteed opportunity to learn something about this country. In the city of Morelia there are also numerous museums where history is on display, but there’s one in particular where not only can you see the history, but get a taste of it as well, literally! The “Museo Del Dulce” manages to blend Morelia’s history and past techniques of candy-making into one unique experience.

Originally located just north of the Cathedral in the Portales Hidalgo, the museum now sits in a gorgeous colonial mansion a few blocks east on Avenida Madero. It’s owned by the Torres family who also own the parent company Del Camino Real, the candy-making arm of the operation. The museum can easily be accessed through two entrances. One is from the Avenida Madero side or from Bartolomé de las Casas, on the south end.

A period piece on display

Once inside you will feel as is you’ve gone back in time to the days of the Porfiriato, when Porfirio Díaz served as dictator of Mexico. The staff is dressed in clothing of the period and will provide assistance for touring the museum. The tour is included in the entrance fee and will usually start in the gallery of photos near the Bartolomé de las Casas entrance. Here, you can scan the walls and see all the black and white photos while your guide informs you of the significance of them and shares some historical accounts of Morelia. The guide will then take you to a small theatre which is set up to run a ten-minute film providing details about the origins of candy in Mexico and how it all started in Morelia.

After the film, you will be led to an area which has a good stock of vintage, functional and hand-crafted machinery which was used in the early days of candy-making. Your guide will provide details about the different pieces and share some insight about the process from beginning to end.

Quite fittingly, the conclusion of the tour makes its way to the beautiful, open-style colonial kitchen where you’ll be able to see the original way the Dominican nuns made the famous ate, pronounced Ah-tay. The demonstration begins with the firing up of a copper kettle and then mixing in equal parts of the base fruit pulp guava (or other fruit pulp) and cane sugar. The stirring, with a wooden spoon or paddle, continues for seven minutes, or until the mixture is the ideal consistency for pouring into molds. In this museum, the Del Camino Real Candy Company chooses to pour the perfectly prepared ate into molds shaped in the fashion of prominent Morelia landmarks, such as its famous 17th century aqueduct.

Before leaving the museum, be sure to check out the retail section which has over three hundred varieties of candy. Everything from tamarind and chili-coated ates to obleas (dulce de leche wafers) are on display and for purchase here. You can also end your visit by enjoying a strong coffee and delighting in a pastry in the “back patio café” or Café del Patio de Atrás.

So, remember, next time you’re in Morelia make sure you find your way to this museum to absorb some history and witness the art of keeping some traditions alive. After all, the experience will no doubt leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth and fond memories for some time to come!

Helpful Information

Location: Avenida Madero Oriente #440, in Morelia’s historic district

Hours: Daily from 10:00am-2:00pm & from 4:30pm-8:00pm

Admission fee: MXN $17.00/adult & MXN $12.00 for students and seniors

Website for candy company: www.delacallereal.com

Please see the map below for exact location.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabi Grivec February 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Once again I am astounded by the culture of Mexico. I lived there for just 6 fantastic months years back and I’ll never forget it. I didn’t manage to get to Morelia but this article has given a great snippet of what is there, especially as I have a sweet tooth!

planetnomad February 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

Thanks for stopping by Sabi! The culture in Mexico continues to draw me in as always. One could easily spend a lifetime traveling through this country and still catch only a glimpse of its greatness. Obviously, this is one of the chief reasons I love writing and sharing about it as much as I can. Oh, and I share your sweet tooth as well and feel vulnerable (in a good way) in places like Morelia, but hey, we only live once…haha! Thanks again for your visit and happy travels to you!

Jen Laceda March 17, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Sweet!!!!! Sweets are my downfall :)

planetnomad March 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I hear you loud and clear Jen! Sweets are a HUGE weakness for me too and Morelia presents too much temptation, but in a good way, haha!

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