TUPELO • Yuceli Lopez was born and raised in Chiapas, Mexico, and moved to Saltillo as a teen in 2005. It didn’t take long for the Saltillo High graduate to become homesick for traditional Hispanic snacks.
“Mexican treats – ice cream, fresh water, street corn – we don’t have anything like this in Tupelo,” said Lopez, 27. “You have to go to New Albany or Memphis to get something like this.”
So in September 2018, she opened Mi Michoacana (pronounced Me Me-SCHWA-canna) on South Gloster Street in Tupelo across from the Neighborhood Walmart.
“Hispanic people know that means it’s treats – ice cream, popsicles, aguas frescas,” she said. “We were thinking when we opened we’d have mostly Hispanics, but we have more American customers.”
Lopez said the ice cream at Mi Michoacana is more fruity and creamier than typical American ice cream.
“The sweetener comes from Mexico,” she said. “We have traditional flavors like chocolate and vanilla, but we also have pina colada, coffee, Ferrero Rocher (hazelnut), pinenut and Mexican eggnog made with raisins we call rompope. We even have a non-alcoholic tequila-flavored ice cream.”
Other unusual, but delicious, flavors include mamey, a fruit that’s shaped like a coconut with an inside like papaya; and nance, which looks like a small yellow cherry.
“Some people say nance tastes like coconut, some say it tastes like plums,” Lopez said. “In the ice cream, we leave the skins on. You can tell there’s fruit in it.”
Lopez largely runs the business herself but has help from her husband, Manuel Carmona, who builds metal frames; her father, Jorge Cruz, who does residential construction, roofing and pressure-washing; and her mother, Rita Cruz, who cleans houses. A family friend, Enrique Moralez, helps with social media and weekly drawings for free give-aways.
“Our customers are families,” Lopez said. “Lots of children. We have a small house for kids to play in and miniature picnic tables for children.”
The best-sellers are Mangonada, which is mango sherbet with chili powder, chamoy sauce, diced mango and tamarind candy; street corn; and homemade tamales.
“Our menu is basically the same as when we opened,” she said. “We always offer a seasonal fresh fruit cup. Everything is fresh. There’s no canned fruit except for maraschino cherries. We want people to come try the difference in Mexican flavors. Come taste the difference.”