Monday, January 12, 2009

Amazing edible art

What are some one of the most craved desserts in contemporary Mexico? Could it be the ever so popular flan, so common in Mexican restaurants north of the border? Well, not quite.

When I was growing up during the 1970's I remember attending kid's parties in Mexico City where the "gelatina" (a molded gelatin dessert) was just as important as the birthday cake. One of the most memorable birthday gelatin desserts I encountered was in the shape of a mama Dalmatian dog complete with a dozen little pups, all made out of vanilla and chocolate flavored gelatin. Gelatin was so popular that at times you could also see street vendors balancing trays of these jiggly concoctions in a variety of colors. I even won a cooking contest when I was nine, cooking aspic, a savory gelatin (but I'll leave that for another post!)

Apparently there has been a renaissance in the artistic gelatin craze. These images came via Gaby Beltran's web page. Don't they look like beautiful glass paper weights? They are actually intricate gelatin desserts that are 100% edible. Yes, you could run a knife trough these creations and not encounter anything solid. The technique used to create these beauties requires preparing a flavored clear gelatin dome that is set in the refrigerator. The petals, pistils and leaves are created using skewers, molds and specially shaped tools that are patiently filled with a syringe using an opaque gelatin mix prepared with milk and a variety of vegetable colorings.

If you are ever in Mexico City and want to learn these artful flower "gelatina" making techniques, pay a visit to Gaby's website (it is in Spanish). This talented lady also offers courses in how to make marzipan fruit, chocolate truffles, cupcakes and extremely cute gummy lollies. Another very talented Mexican lady is Lourdes Reyes. Lourdes also teaches these flower techniques and her website advertises other interesting classes. On her website you'll see courses offering techniques used to create a variety of gelatin shapes, not just flowers. She also mentions a "watercolor" technique used to draw on gelatin. Here is a link to Lourdes's business, Gelart Floral. Her website is both in English and Spanish. Lourdes also teaches some of her classes in California. I hope you save room for gelatina!

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