Posts Tagged ‘nieves’

After more than two weeks of frente fríos (cold fronts) sweeping down from el norte, the weather has turned downright hot, with temperatures in the mid 80s (F).  What’s a person to do?  Today, this person headed to her favorite ice cream parlor, Nevería Malena at Jardín Socrates.

I previously mentioned this nevería when the Jardín underwent an image enhancement a year and a half ago.  And, as before I ordered leche quemada (burnt milk) and tuna (nopal cactus fruit).  It may not have been the most nutritious lunch, but it hit the spot!

Parfait glass with leche quemada and tuna

As you can see from the photo, Nevería Malena now sports spiffy new seat covers for the backs of their wrought iron chairs.  And, on the back of the laminated menu of flavors, the story of Malena and the “tradition that flatters your palate” is told.  (My translation follows.)

Placard with an image of Señora Malena and a granddaughter

Señora Malena is the 5th child of Ángel Armengol and Anacieta Hernández.  They taught her the craft and soon she became one of the most prestigious and famous for the seasoning and flavors of her frozen dessert.  

Initially, Malena walked around the Zócalo, offering her frozen dessert in glasses.  Later she relocated next to the Cathedral where she continued to offer her delicious frozen dessert.  (Note:  At that time natural ice was brought from the community of “La Nevería” in the Sierra Juárez.)  She then moved to the Alameda de León to a space which already had a laminated roof.  It was here she affectionately began to be called, “Malenita” and the stall was named Malena.

Malena became famous for traditional flavors like burnt milk, sorbet, walnut, pear, and lemon.  Fame grew with an invitation by the Secretariat of Tourism to participate in the “Week of Oaxaca in Mexico,” at which Malena participated for 15 years.  The stall subsequently was transferred to “Socrates Garden” where it is currently run by her children and grandchildren, with love and affection — to continue the tradition and increase the variety of flavors.

Hanging plaques listing flavors

And, increase the flavors they have!  So many to choose from.  Hmmm… next time, Beso de Ángel or Diablo???

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You know Semana Santa is on the horizon when tables, large and small, elaborately or minimally decorated, miraculously appear in doorways, street corners, and the Alcalá.  The common denominator is smiling people offering Agua de Jamaica, Horchata, Chilacayota, and even nieves to all passers-by.  Día de la Samaritana (Good Samaritan Day) is an only-in-Oaxaca, 4th Friday of Lent, event.

This year, besides experiencing the joyous mob scene on the Alcalá and the small sidewalk stands on side streets, on a tip from a friend, I made the “taking your life in your hands” crossing of Calzado de la República to the picturesque cobblestoned neighborhood of Jalatlaco.  Tables of aguas and nieves lined the plaza in front of the Templo de San Matías Jalatlaco and pastor Víctor Hernández was recounting the Biblical story, found in the Book of John, of the woman at the well who offered water to Jesus — the inspiration for Día de la Samaritana.  He concluded the story and blessing with the word “¡ataque!” and the masses did, indeed, attack the tables!  By the way, pastor Hernández gets around — he was the same priest who performs the yearly blessing of the animals across town at the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Merced.

It was a hot day and having already had two aguas, as I made my way over to Jalatlaco, I was jonesing for a nieve but, alas, by the time I figured out which table was serving it, the line was too long.  So, giving up on the nieve, I accepted another agua and headed towards home.  However, in the true spirit of the day, as I was melting in the heat, an older gentleman standing on the sidewalk asked if I would like a nieve and gestured toward a woman standing in the doorway behind a small table.  “Sí” I replied and a styrofoam coffee cup filled with Leche Quemada (my favorite) was thrust into my hand.  Another sublime day in Oaxaca…

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On my first visit to Oaxaca, I was introduced to Jardín Sócrates, part of the Templo de la Soledad/Plaza de la Danza complex, between Independencia and Morelos.  The original Jardín Sócrates was constructed as a public garden in 1881 and remodeled for its 100th birthday.

Pink and white iron chairs and umbrella in front of a neveria stand.

I have a weakness for ice cream, sherbet, and gelato and, thus, was completely “in heaven” being surrounded by stands selling the most amazing flavors of  milk and water based frozen desserts.

Green and yellow iron chairs and umbrellas in front of a neveria stand.

Everyone has their favorite vendor, my friend G was partial to Nevería Malena, and so we sat down at one of their yellow and white iron tables.

Yellow and white iron chairs and umbrellas in front of the Nevería Malena stand.

It was SO hard to decide what to order; being tempted by too many choices and being mystified by what many of the flavors actually were.

Nevería Malena sign listing 34 flavors

What in the world is Beso de Angel?  I settled on a scoop of Leche Quemada (burnt milk) with a scoop of Tuna (fruit of the nopal cactus NOT the fish) on top.  I was hooked!

Bowl of leche quemada and tuna nieve on yellow and white iron table.

As it worked out, two years later I moved into an apartment only a block away and I pass by Jardín Sócrates at least a couple of times a week.   However, in mid October 2011, carpenters began constructing wooden puestos along Independencía below the Jardín.  Ready for a feria?  I wondered.  Then they were painted!  These took on a semi-permanent character.  Hmmm…

Wooden puestos lining sidewalk.

Soon, a sign went up explaining the Jardín Sócrates was undergoing an “image enhancement,” courtesy of the federal and municipal governments.

Programa Habitat 2011; Gobierno Federal sign.

Demolition soon began, including the removal of the original green cantera (stone) pavement.

Pile of old paving stones

And, the neverías began moving down to the temporary puestos on Independencia.  I found Nevería Malena, ordered my usual, and asked how long the relocation was going to last.  “No sé.”  (“Don’t know.”) was the answer.

Iron tables, chairs, and puestos on sidewalk.

Eight new stalls were constructed, the cantera was replaced with red terracotta tile, and new tables, chairs, and umbrellas materialized.  After five months,  the newly “enhanced” Jardín Sócrates opened on March 29, 2012.

Fountain and green umbrellas on terracotta paved terrace.

It does look lovely — orderly and coordinated — but I kind of miss the color and funkiness of the old.

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