If you grew up in Mexico or if you have been living here for some time, then surely you have had to try the famous Mexican ice cream, also known as nieve, these sweet delicacies that refresh us on hot summer afternoons and that more than one of us asked our parents to buy for us when they were going to pick us up at primary school.
Nieves are a part of our history, they have accompanied us in incredible moments and have comforted us in those that we would like to forget. For this reason, today, we pay tribute to this beloved little dessert and share everything we know about them.
Before we begin, we will answer the million-dollar question: ice cream and Mexican ice cream, are they the same? Well, no, not really.
Although in many instances we use them interchangeably, nieves and ice cream have different bases: while the latter is made mainly from dairy products, such as milk or derived creams, the former are made primarily from water. And while Mexican ice cream may contain a little milk, this is not its main ingredient.
Throughout history, there are multiple records of ice cream. There are mentions in the Bible and in sacred texts, as well as legends citing that nomads carried cream during their journeys and ate it frozen, due to the low temperatures. Also, some researchers point out that in ancient Tenochtitlán they already ate cold desserts, such as fruits.
In Mexico, the first ice cream man was Leonardo Leaños, in 1602. Martín González de la Vara, the author of the book “The history of ice cream in Mexico”, says that Leaños offered a creamy mixture of milk, egg, and honey.
Although there are records of nieve makers from yesteryear, it was not until after the war of independence that Mexican ice cream gained popularity in the national territory. Then, the famous neveros, with a song, walked the streets and offered this delicious dessert to the people who were walking around
The first ice factory was only inaugurated in 1985, so in the 1990s, before that, snow harvesting took place in Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl. It is said that the villagers loaded their bags with ice, added salt, and transported it from town to town.
Today, nieves are present in all the parks, accompanying us in the warmest seasons and the best moments.