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Dolores Hidalgo Guanajuato

Dolores Hidalgo: Middle-Class Comfort Zone

     "Why not?"
"Corn? Zapote? Cheese?"
     "Yes, please!"

I tasted sample after creamy sample of Dolores' famous ice cream, drawing the line at chicharrón (fried pork skin) flavor and avoiding savor de tequila (way too early for cocktails). But in a spasm of open-mindedness, I did agree to sample the octopus-flavored ice-cream. Emily Post would have been proud---it came out of my mouth the same way it went in, on the end of my little wooden tasting spoon. Gross!

In case you don't know, Dolores Hidalgo is famous for its ice cream. Vendors dot the pretty central plaza, passing out little samples. After I recovered from my seafood ice cream experience, I settled on a combo cup of guava and rose petal-flavored helado. Both were delicious, although I was already quite sated by all the samples.

A colonial town and contemporary of nearby Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Dolores is also known for the Talavera or majolica-style pottery produced there. Shops downtown and on highways leading to this town of 135,000 sell umbrella stands, urns, vases, pots, sinks, and place settings. Some are the traditional blue and white patterns that the Spaniards brought from Talavera de la Reina, in the state of Toledo, Spain. Using locally available pigments, indigenous masters soon broadened the color palate to include the greens, rust-red, ochre yellow, and black hues that characterizes Mexican Talavera pottery today.

The hub of this prosperous-looking town is the tree-lined plaza principal, where a statue of Padre Miguel Hidalgo looks down from a stone pedestal. The Independence hero's last name was added to the town's original moniker, Dolores, after independence from Spain. Dolores represents the town's patron saint, Our Lady of Sorrow, or Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. Her solid and splendid temple faces the main square also.

After eating your fill of hand-made ice cream and visiting the church, you might want to see the Museo Casa de Hidalgo and Museo de la Independencia. As the place where Father Hidalgo rang the bell on the night of September 15, 1810 to launch Mexico's War of Independence from Spain, Dolores is rightly proud of its historical legacy. And in preparation for the bicentennial celebration of this historic event---and the visit of President Felipe Calderón, who will recreate Padre Hidalgo's action in September 2010---the town and museums are being spruced up.


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