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Ice cream heats up in Chico


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Published 2012-05-01T18:07:00Z”/>

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Mexican flavors add local flavor north of campusPaul Smeltzer

With temperatures in-creasing and summer around the corner, the soft texture of homemade ice cream is a hot choice for students looking for a cool study break.

Avocado, strawberry and cheese are just some of the flavors offered at La Flor de Michoacan Paleteria y Neveria, a homemade ice cream shop that opened April 6 in the University Square shopping center at Nord and West Sacramento avenues.

Tony Ramos, a freshman music major, has tried the ice cream three times and picked out his favorite flavor.

“Mango flavor is probably the one I’ve had the most,” Ramos said.

Cheese is also one of his favorites, but that’s been out of stock every time he’s gone for more, he said.

La Flor de Michoacan discontinued these cheese paletas, or popsicles, after a representative from the dairy division of the California board of agriculture advised the owner that the products could pose a health risk, shop manager Alex Nava said.

Even though both the cheese and cream were pasteurized before mixture, the final product, a cheese popsicle mix, wasn’t pasteurized again. When combining two pasteurized milk products, California law requires the ingredients to be pasteurized together, Nava said.

Upon entering the store, every costumer is treated to a style of homemade ice cream that originated 2,000 miles south of Chico in Michoacan, a state in western Mexico, Nava said.

“This type of shop is really popular in Mexico,” Nava said. “You could probably find at least one or two in every small town which have their own regional flair genuine to their agricultural surroundings.” 

The Chico shop is probably the only one of its kind in California north of Yuba City, Nava said. 

Unlike other shops, La Flor de Michoacan Paleteria y Neveria makes all of its ice cream with a process that has been handed down for generations.

“We’re different because we’re homemade,” Nava said.

While other ice cream shops dole out scoops from prepackaged tubs, La Flor de Michoacan Paleteria y Neveria’s workers infuse their ice cream with more time and effort.

The shop uses canned or frozen fruit, adds pure sugar cane, ice cream mix containing 16 percent butter fat and super-chilled salt water, then stirs the mixture inside industrial-sized bowls until it freezes, Nava said.

After moving from Mexico, the owners opened the store, because the weather was heating up and the location was available. 

“It isn’t part of a chain, but we might open up some new locations,” Nava said.

Based on the 50 hours per week that Nava averages at work, much of the shop’s business comes from Chico State students who live in the area and the Latino community, because the shop is the first of its style in town, he said.

“Everyone has either memories of going back to Mexico or of living in Mexico and eating this style of ice cream,” Nava said.

The first time undeclared freshman Nancy Izazaga tried the ice cream was when she was a toddler in Mexico City, she said during her third trip to the shop. 

“So far I’ve had mango, avocado and lemon,” Izazaga said.

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<strong>Paul Smeltzer can be reached at</strong>

<em>[email protected]</em>

  1. It’s not plain vanilla
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      Ice cream heats up in Chico