Helados de Salcedo, the last bastion in the square

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This delicious recipe – once called the “nun’s ice cream”- was created by the Franciscan Rosa María Durán and it was made of cream, natural fruit pulp, and just the right amount of sugar.

Four generations have passed since the “nun’s ice cream” was invented. Today, it is recognized throughout Ecuador as Salcedo’s traditional ice cream. Despite there being dozens of places that make it, there’s only one that truly still uses the original recipe. The ice-cream shop is located in front of Salcedo’s square, on its south side. It belongs to the family of Jaime Jijón and Marina Franco. Once the Paredes sisters died (they were also known for making the original ice cream), there was no one left to keep the secret alive.

Everything starts with the ice cream stick, which already needs to be “the right one”. Then, there’s the fresh fruit. Mandarines peeled in a bucket, mangoes sliced into pieces, taxo sieved of seeds, naranjillas de-pipped … waiting their turn in a corner of the shop to be put in a machine that creates the creamy and unctuous elixir reminiscent of your childhood’s best pleasures. In a large fridge at the entrance, hundreds of ice creams stand with their characteristic conical-like shape.

Individual flavors are popular, as well as the guanábana (soursop) and blackberry combination. But the classic, the unforgettable, the one that every Salcedeño remembers since they were kids, has seven flavors and comes in layers, in the following order: coconut, blackberry, mango, two Andean endemic fruits taxo and naranjilla, blackberry again, and milk, a flag of delights that melts in your mouth and transforms your taste buds as fresh and intense new flavors arise.

The local tradition has suffered from the arrival of the E35, the highway that replaced the route for those who had to travel through the town to continue to the south. Many ice cream parlors have opted, therefore, to go out to the road to sell the products. Nonetheless, the essence of this ice cream remains in the heart of the town. Don’t forget to visit the ice cream shop to keep the tradition alive.

Photo: Jorge Vinueza

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