Canadians’ collective obsession with Mexican cuisine has long been apparent.
Well, our obsession with Americanized tacos, burritos, quesadillas, guacamole, margaritas, Coronas and the occasional churro, to be a little more specific.
But while tacos might be a staple on every chain-restaurant menu from Vancouver to Halifax—I write this as someone who spent the better part of their university years working at an Ontario Tex-Mex chain known for their fajitas, where the corporate policy encouraged staff to greet guests with a truly cringeworthy “Howdy, y’all”—it’s likely a safe bet that the vast majority of Canadians, if pressed, couldn’t name a traditional Mexican dessert. (Aside from the aforementioned churro, obviously.)
It’s something Whistlerites Isabel Ramirez and her husband, Sergio Gutierrez, are working to change with their newest venture, a weekly made-to-order dessert delivery service called Sweet Bites by Delicias Market.
“Many people like Mexican food. In Whistler, Vancouver … you find only the [savoury] food,” Ramirez explained. “Mexico has another side, another delicious thing, and those are the desserts.”
Ramirez moved to the resort from Mexico City a little under a decade ago. She followed in the footsteps of her mom, who immigrated to Whistler about 13 years ago. “Mexico is beautiful—I love my country,” said Ramirez, but the safety a life in B.C. provided proved too enticing to pass up.
One challenge of living in a Canadian resort town? Procuring the right ingredients Ramirez needed to cook her favourite traditional Mexican dishes. “It’s so complicated to find Mexican products, like tortillas, tomatillos, dried chilies,” she explained.
Ramirez and her family found themselves heading to Vancouver to find the products more often than they’d like, a process that became even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, they thought, “Maybe a lot of Mexican families here in Whistler are in the same situation,” Ramirez said. They wanted to create an easier way for other Mexicans in Canada—or just neighbours looking to cook authentic Mexican meals—to find those same products.
Enter Delicias Market. Ramirez and her family decided to found the online store almost two years ago, at the end of 2020. The virtual marketplace offers everything from sweets and sodas to sauces, spices, beans, peppers and more. Those products are available to ship across Canada, but orders from Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton will be delivered the next business day. Ramirez sources her products from an importer in Burnaby.
Earlier this summer, that side hustle took a sweet turn.
“I feel so proud about my country. I love Mexico, it has beautiful things. One thing in this part [of the world], it has only the salty [Mexican] foods, all the same. The desserts are different,” Ramirez said. “I said, ‘well, the people love the desserts, I love to cook, my desserts are very good—they are delicious,” she added with a laugh. “So why not? Why not show the people?”
Every week for the past couple of months, Ramirez has invited Whistlerites to place orders for a specific Mexican dessert up until 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. She and her husband then spend their Wednesdays baking the orders, while her mom takes care of the couple’s two young daughters—one two-and-a-half and the other five months—before delivering those homemade, fresh-out-of-the-oven orders throughout the Whistler community Wednesday evenings. “It’s a pretty good team,” Ramirez said of the family affair.
It started with mosaico tres leches jellies, featuring four different flavours of jellies suspended in a jelly cream, topped with fresh fruit and served in cups. Next, Ramirez offered up cheese cubiletes, a pastry with a shortbread crust filled with a mixture of condensed milk, vanilla and cream cheese, garnished with a cherry and a sprig of mint.
In August, Sweet Bites offered up chocoflan, slices of chocolate cake topped with—you guessed it—flan.
“The idea was one different dessert each week,” Ramirez explained, but word of mouth meant she’d often hear from Whistlerites looking to try the same orders their friends had raved about the previous week. Now, the same recipe is offered for two weeks in a row before Ramirez and Gutierrez switch it up. Keeping Whistler’s high cost of living in mind, Ramirez is also committed to keeping prices affordable to make sure the occasional sweet treat is within everyone’s reach.
“We started with big dreams, because we want people to know the delicious, sweet side of Mexico, about the desserts,” she said. Eventually, Ramirez added, she and her family would like to expand the online market into a bakery and storefront.
“That is the dream, but we can try.”
Sweet Bites orders can be placed through WhatsApp at 604-698-8608 while more information and products can be found at deliciasmkt.com. Check out Delicias Market’s Facebook page for weekly dessert updates.