Friday, March 17, 2006

Dessert temptations, Mexican style

This post is loooooong overdue. I said I would write about Mexican marketing tricks after returning from my wonderful - if somewhat telenovela style - trip to Mexico last Autumn, but somehow it's March and I still haven't done it...

I'm a real pudding girl. If I have a choice between a starter and a dessert (or pudding, as they're called here in the UK), I almost always go for the latter. I have a very sweet tooth, which explains the prevalence of cakes over savoury dishes on this little blog of mine. However, I am very much aware that all those sugar and butter ladden cakes cannot be good for my waist-hip ratio. So I try to avoid them.

Not too difficult here in Scotland or back home in Estonia or anywhere else in Europe I've travelled. After finishing the main course, the waiter usually comes and quietly asks if I'm interested in the dessert menu at all. Here's the chance for me to exercise my often dwindling self-control and say "No, thank you". Sometimes I forget that I'm not really so hungry and/or not supposed to have a dessert, and let the waiter bring the menu. However, it is still relatively easy even at this point to look at the menu only fleetingly, convince myself that I'm not actually so hungry after all and opt for a coffee or tea instead.

But no, not in Mexico.

You see, in Mexico, they don't do the old-fashioned printed menus for desserts. In Mexico, they do these dangerously tempting and irresistible in-your-face dessert menus. When you're happily chatting away with your friends after yet another delicious meal, a smiling waiter appears with a huge tray of oh-so-delicious-looking desserts - real ones, not photographs or some artificial replicas, a true feast to all your senses. In Mexico the smart marketing people have long known that we eat with our eyes. However much you'd like to say that "No gracias, señor", suggesting that you're more than full already, you're doomed, you're bound to fail. Once you eye and smell those luscious creations right in front of you, you inevitably end up asking for one. At least that's what happened to me each and every time I ate out during my trip. After just one glance at the dessert offerings, my finger pointed at one of them, and the joyous waiter took my order to the pastry chef in the kitchen.

I know I'm not very good in resisting good food anyway, but I was always taken by surprise how easy it was to give in. How could I possibly fit in that chocolate and raspberry cake at Bistrot Mosaico in Condesa after a very generous slice of huitlacoche quiche, terrine de berengenas and other delicious Franco-Mexican concoctions? Or how did a simple cocktail with a friend at the slowly revolving 45th floor restaurant of the World Trade Centre, Ciudad de México on my last day in town ended with the planned cocktail and a delectable mocca mousse (that's the one in the middle on the left side above, next to the mango cheesecake)? You get my point..

Oh well. At least no-one in Europe seems to know this particular dessert marketing trick. Yet..


Antti said...

At the Marriott Milan, Italy, they not only let you see the real desserts, but actually brought a huge cart with tons of caces next to your table, so you could literally have an instant gratification. Very hip-unfriendly. Now that I think of it, many smaller restaurants did the same thing in Milan too.

Luckily the service in Finland is generally so lousy I simply can't see this being adopted here ;)

Pene said...

I know that dessert trolleys have been around for along time, but should be in every restaurant.

Does anyone know any place that shows you the dessert menu first?

J said...

hi pille, as they say, better late than never - i say a renaissance of the good old-fashioned dessert trolley in in order...for some bizarre reason, this post has me craving some old school crepes suzette, flambeed right at the table!

bea at La Tartine Gourmande said...

ahahah, funny Pille. So no choice when you see the desserts!!!! ;-) I have to say, I am more of a savoury tooth, maybe because I come from this cheeeeeeeez land, where I prefer camembert to a piece of chocolate (mind you, I love chocolate!)

Pille said...

Antti - I've been to Milan, but few years ago as a poor student, and obviously didn't eat at the right establishments:)
In any case, in Mexico it wasn't a dessert trolley system where you get a slice of something on the trolley. They come and show you a tray of desserts, and then you choose one, and the order is taken to the kitchen, i.e. you don't get anything from that very tray, but one prepared in the kitchen for you. Me thinks:) Must ask my chef friend..

Pene - same thing re: dessert trolleys vs trays. And here in Edinburgh you always get a menu - either the main menu with a dessert section, or a smaller dessert menu. What do they do in Tartu nowadays?

J - the way your mind works, eh:) But crepes suzette, flambeed at the table, sounds divine!

Bea - I _wish_ I'd be a salad person as opposed to chocolate&cakes person - I'd be much happier with my body I guess. Must be because I come from a land where you almost need sweet cakes and breads to keep you warm during those long winter months..