a museum of sweetness: dulces de michoacan

There are ancient churches, picturesque plazas and corners filled with history in the colonial Mexican town of Morelia, but when I heard about a Museo de Dulce, a Museum of Sweets, I got excited.
Forget thirst for knowledge, appreciation for architecture or understanding of traditions, my taste buds where doing the talking and the walking in this town as I led my family on an frenzied hunt for this museum.
I had heard that this region, the region of Michoacan, was well-known for its sweets and I wasn’t sure what I would find:  old sugar grinders?  Fuzzy black and white blow-ups of traditional candy makers at their task?  Fruit roll ups from 1902?
What I found was equally surprising as their ‘museo’ was no museum at all, but rather an actual labyrinth of shacks heavy with candy and sweetened by singsong of hopeful salespeople:
“Que lo ofrezco que le ofrezco, pasale pasale, andale” (What can I offer you, enter enter enter)“El dulce de Michoacan, la Morielita, laguayabalaguayabalaguayaba” (The sweets of Michoacan, the Morielita, guava guava guava)“Vendo dulce vendo dulce tamaranidomangopiña tamarindomangopiña”  (I sell sweets, I sell sweets, tamarind, mango, pineapple, tamarind, mango , pineapple)
Every stand had a different tune, even though they all where overloaded with the same stuff.
“Don’t buy from just one place,” my husband reprimanded as my eyes grew wide at the first stand and my hands began to feverishly grab every diabetes-inducing concoction in sight.  “Let more than one person make some money.”
This is why I love the guy, because even in a Mexican candy land that propels me into sugar craziness, he can keep a level head.  Cool, calm, and collected, he is.  And a humanist at heart.  I would have hugged him but that would mean putting down my rollo de guayaba and my tiritas de tamarindo and I wasn’t about to do that.
Instead, I did the next best thing and conceded.
“You’re right, babe,” I replied (cleverly not putting down any candy.)  This was our mutual cue to keep on trucking, down lanes of sweetness with objects that resembled fruits before they were sequestered by sugar and candied, crystallized, or coated into bliss.
We left with more junk than we’d eat in a lifetime.  But everyone was a winner on this round.  I had satiated my appetite with loads of sweets I’d never eat, my husband had done a good deed in helping local businesses, and the singing, well, it continued well after we left, but with an extra pep in its beat.


Candied Figs

Can be served with or without its liquid.

2 pounds fresh figs
1 stick of cinnamon
2 cups of brown sugar
½ cup red wine
3 whole cloves
Wash figs and dry. Add them in a pot with all the ingredients, bring to a boil and lower heat to a high simmer. Simmer until liquid is half gone and is syrupy, approximately 15-25 minutes. Turn off heat and cool. Refrigerate.

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a museum of sweetness: dulces de michoacan

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