I Scream, You Scream
Comonfort as a Tourist Destination

by Joseph Toone

We all scream for ice cream, particularly if you foray a bit south to Comonfort. The town is normally associated with an abundance of gaudy plant pots and the long ago assassination of Mexican President Comonfort, a scary harbinger of President Lincoln’s soon-to-occur fate.

Out of the blue, two sisters from Comonfort contacted me for some free consulting on tourism. They recognized my image on the web from my many weekends dancing in Comonfort with my students from the town next door, Escobedo. They had inherited a building, which they converted into a five room hotel, in hopes of attracting foreigners to come spend the night.

Off the top of my head, I recognized that their plan was laced with difficulties. Principal among these is that Comonfort is not a tourist town and that folks enjoying some time in San Miguel are rarely interested in leaving town. But, as I have learned both the easy and hard ways, I am often wrong. So, with my fallibility in mind I arrange to come down the following Sunday. With me is my partner in crime, Tony the Driver, cousin to Tony the Tiger, whose real name is the cartoonish, Tony Bravo, our town’s go-to massage man.

The sisters have done good work with the hotel idea. It looks nice, but with airless rooms and bathroom doors that once adorned Miss Kitty’s saloon and zero amenities, it’s not a pull by gringo standards. We chat about the notion of making the rooms classrooms to teach Otomi arts like basket-making and chipping away stone to form a pestle and mortar used in cooking. The obvious downside to both activities is they take hours of manual, and mindless, labor. Not a typical vacation activity.

Next we gambol into town and learn of all the odd food truck options. For me, these were topped by the dish of a torta featuring a bull’s penis as the meat. OK, my interest is peaked. Next came a squash vegetable, cousin to a pumpkin, that soaked in sugar is sweet, stringy and sticky. I had a bite of that, but I passed on the boner between bread. Even I am not such a brave eater.

But then things started to look up while we gamboled down a picturesque alley toward a factory that one of the sisters had long worked at. It was a fourth-generation family-run ice cream factory. I had assumed Dolores Hidalgo had the market cornered on ice cream. I was very, very wrong.

Dolores Hidalgo ice cream is made from cream or ice with the flavor added last. Here in Comonfort, for a really long time, ice cream is made from fresh milk, freshly pasteurized, with the flavor immediately added. Not just boiled, but stirred with spoons that easily could double as the paddles of a canoe.

Just like when I made ice cream with my then teen-aged older sister (all my siblings are older... so very, very old,) it is a lot of work. Back in the 1970s there was a culinary trend of making ice cream at home involving ice, salt and bicep-growth stirring and stirring. Here in Comonfort the process still does build biceps.

The ice cream is then rushed down the street to be sold that day in the town’s square. The ice cream is so fresh that it is only good that very day, before the organic ingredients separate back out again.

As a lad raised in Hershey I’m all too aware of the inherent appeal of sweetness in the air for drawing tourists. This factory has it all. The smell, the hands on experience, the inherent excitement in making any dessert are all located in a factory that is painted in colors that made me feel like I was trapped inside Jeannie’s bottle. How cool is that?

Plus, the ice cream is delicious and very different than the ice-based ice cream here in San Miguel. Particularly since the Santa Clara factory has stopped making their dairy-based ice cream.

Forget the hotel, classrooms or basket-making, the answer was there all along for the sisters. Come to Comonfort and make ice cream.

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Joseph Toone is Amazon's bestselling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets series of books and TripAdvisor's best rated historical walking tour guide. For more information contact toone.joseph@yahoo.com or visit History and Culture Walking Tours or JosephTooneTours.com, also on FaceBook.

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