Shrimp ice cream and the Mexican War of Independence. They go together like….say what?
It only makes sense once you’ve been to Dolores, Mexico, a town of about 55,000 halfway between the colonial cities of Guanajuato and the expat haven, San Miguel de Allende
Poor Dolores is nowhere near as gorgeous as either of these jewel-box cities. But as Mexico celebrates its Bicentennial next year, expect Dolores to garner its share of glory. That’s because Mexico’s top rabble rouser, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, issued his famous cry for revolution (known as the Grito de Dolores) at the city’s church on Sept. 16, 1810.
With his army of disaffected criollos (creoles, or people of Spanish descent who were born in Mexico) and poor villagers, Hidalgo marched through the Sierra Bajio area toward wealthy Guanajuato, where he forced many of the town’s wealthy Spanish inhabitants to take refuge in the Alhondiga de Granaditas, the town’s granary. Just as the mob stormed the Bastille in Paris, Hilago’s band broke down the door of the Granary and executed several hundred men, women and children (an act that was protested by his fellow revolutionary, Ignacio Allende).
Considered the Father of the Nation of Mexico, Hidalgo’s personal fight didn’t last long. He was captured in 1811 outside Chihuahua, and his head hung on a pike outside Guanajuato’s Granary for 10 years as a warning for other revolutionaries. But his legacy lives on. The town of Dolores officially changed its name to Dolores Hidalgo and every year, Mexican dignitaries come to the small city to read the Grito de Dolores in the square and ring the bells in the historic church – a practice that is then repeated in towns across the country.
In Dolores, the top attraction is Hidalgo’s church, also known as Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s a gorgeous example of churrigueresque architecture, carved from rose-colored quarry stone.
Out front, a clock ticks down the seconds, minutes and hours to Mexico’s bicentennial. The town also has a museum dedicated to Hidalgo and an Independence Musuem.
So what about the ice cream? On the town’s lush plaza, ice cream stands are parked on each corner. They have the regular helado flavors such as vanilla, pistachio and chocolate. But they also serve unusual flavors such as corn, avocado, cerveza and yes, shrimp.
Each stand tries hard to sell you their specific flavors, and the vendors hand out tasting spoons with a generosity you’d never find in the US. I sampled tequila, cerveza, guava, and shrimp (well, someone had to!) The latter tasted fruity instead of fishy, which makes me believe the name may be used more for its shock value than anything else. In any case, the city is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area.