04 November 2009

Helado Pirulí

The Spanish word "pirulí" (pee-roo-LEE) is used for what we might call a "lollipop" in English but not exactly. The word "pirulí" comes from the verb "piruetear" which means "to pirouet" as in ballet. A pirulí is generally a candy made of caramelized sugar in the form of a six inch twisted cone and it usually contains several colors and has a stick in one end that serves as a handle. Sometimes the same thing goes by the name "chupirul", "pico dulce", or "pirulín". Be careful with the name "pirulín", however, as that names is sometimes used for the "pee-pee" on a little boy. There is also another form of pirulí called a "helado pirulí" which is a long thin ice cream cone but without the wafer cone for a handle. Instead the end of the ice cream pirulí is wrapped with a bit of paper.

On Sunday my wife Gina and I took her father Don Antonio for a little walk around the "Centro Historico" part of Irapuato because it was a beautiful day and being very elderly he doesn't get out much. We had a wonderful time and when we sat down on a bench to rest and chat (which he and I do a lot) Gina went off to find us some ice cream. She came back shortly with three helado pirulís which you can see in the photo below. There was one each, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. You can see that the strawberry pirulí actually had bits of strawberry in it. They were fantastic and I went off looking to the pirulí man to buy a second round.

I quickly found the man that I was looking for. He was waiting outside of a church called El Sanctuario de Guadalupe. When the people come out from 12 o'clock mass they are bound to want some ice cream. Good thinking, eh? I have bought pirulís from this man once before. His name is Benjamín Contreras Ramírez and he has been selling pirulís for forty-six years. His father before him did the same thing. This form of selling ice cream is something out of the past. It dates back at least until the time of the Mexican Revolution. To make pirulís is a fairly simple process. He fills metal tubes with cream and whatever flavoring or fruit he desires and then caps and freezes them. To keep them cold while he waits to sell them he keeps the tubes in an insulated tub filled with ice and covered with some heavy cloth. When you hand him a ten peso coin he selects a tube of the flavor you requested and places it in a bucket of water to warm the tube for a few seconds and then deftly removes the cap, gives it a little tap to expose the end, wraps the end of the pirulí in paper, and then holding it by the paper handle he pulls it out of the tube, completes the paper wrapping, and hands it to you. It is like magic. In the old days the tubes were made with "hoja de lata" (OH-ha day LAH-tah) or tin can sheet metal. Modern versions are made from stainless steel tubing.

The only other place that I had seen these is in Tlaquepaque near Guadalajara. I have heard that there may be a pirulí man in Salamanca but I have never run into him. If you do happen to see something like what is shown in the photos below be sure and try it. You won't be disappointed. It will bring out the little kid in you. Oh, yes, and I almost forgot...I'll bet you can't eat just one!

¡Buen Provecho !


GlorV1 said...

I want some Piruli. It looks good and this is very interesting. How nice that you take your FIL out for little walks. That's a very good thing. Gina looks very happy with her Piruli's. I have some frozen yogurt on sticks, does that count? :D Have a great rest of the week.

YayaOrchid said...

One reason I enjoy your blog so much is that I get a rare glimpse of the many different traditions and culture of the 'real' Mexico. I thank you for sharing and letting us in on all those little treasures hidden away from most people.

Tancho said...

Those are terrible, just think what you are exposing children to. What if one ran and impaled themselves on it.....
Nice to know that it will be outlawed NOB, but here in Mexico we can still enjoy the finer thing of life without concern of things that might happen only if the stars are in the right place.
Life is simple, things are good, hopefully it will not change in my lifetime.
Now I have another quest to fulfill before my demise, a pirulí , to try.
Thank you for the awakening!

Nancy said...

We had them here in Mazatlan once, our Mexican daughter in law saw the guy and knew at once what he was selling. He usually sets up over by the Plaza Revolucion. I haven't looked for him in a while, I'm going over there this afternoon, I will see if he's around.

Thanks for the reminder!

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.