Thursday, April 8, 2010

We all scream for ice cream

Rosalva Perez believes she has the best job in the world. Each March, the Liberal business owner opens her ice cream shop, La Michoacana, selling frozen treats to anyone looking to cool off on a hot day.

On Wednesday, Perez smiled and giggled with customers as she passed a fruit cocktail sprinkled with chili powder and a splash of lime to a young women.

The next customer ordered a watermelon and a pineapple popsicle. The customer told Perez he is visiting from El Paso, Texas, and her shop has the best popsicles.

Popsicles similar to the ones he has tasted in Mexico. She hears compliments like that regularly. She has built her business to provide Mexican-styled frozen treats to Liberal. The desserts she creates stem from her Mexican heritage and family recipes. Perez is originally from Los Angeles and moved to Liberal at 15.

“In Mexico, they have a lot of ice cream shops like mine,” said Perez. “I imagined if I bought something like that up here it would sell. A lot of people know what I sell just by the name of the business, La Michoacana. It is a state in Mexico. That is the name they use on these types of ice cream shops all over Mexico.” Perez opened La Michoacana in July 2005. Opening her own frozen treat shop had been a dream since she was young. Her cousin owns two ice cream shops in Juarez, Mexico and taught Perez how to make ice cream, popsicles and flavored water drinks.

“We make everything here,” said Perez. “I make all of our ice cream and store it in a freezer. I usually make my ice cream one day a week and it is not in the freezer longer than a week. Everything is fresh here.”
The popsicles are also homemade by Perez. She creates the icy treats in a variety of flavors: strawberry, raspberry, mint, mango and banana, just to name a few.

“The popsicles are the hardest part of the job,” said Perez. “They are heavy and it fits 40 in a container. I have to cut the fruit into pieces, add sugar and a little bit of coloring. Actually, the only thing that is artificial is the coloring. Other than that everything is natural.”

Hand-made signs accompany the home-made treats. A menu in English and Spanish hangs on the wall listing the options and prices. In addition to the ice cream, popsicles and flavored juice drinks, Perez offers strawberries and cream, fruit cocktail, snow cones and even, nachos.

The most ordered item by adults is the flavored juices or "aguas frescas." She offers flavors in pina colada, cantaloupe, lime and horchata. For children, the popsicles are the most popular.

Around October each year, Perez closes her shop for the season. The near-five months off allows her to spend time with her children and experiment with new ice cream and popsicle treat flavors.

“It gives my customers a break,” said Perez. “When it is snowy and icy outside people don't want ice cream. When I open again they really want to come in.”

As the temperatures begin to rise, so does business at La Michoacana, said Perez.

The shop's name has been great for Spanish-speaking customers but Perez believes the name might hesitate individuals in the community unfamiliar with traditional Mexican treats.

“I had to build my business on the name because people do know what I sell and come in,” said Perez. “If others knew what I sold, I know they would like it.”

La Michoacana is opened from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The shop is located in the El Kan shopping center off North Kansas Avenue.


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