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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Mary Valle: From criminal attorney to Yucatán’s Scoop Goddess

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.
Mary Valle is Yucatán’s “Scoop Goddess,” delivering Ela2 ice cream in Mérida and at the beach. Photo: Laura Sánchez / Yucatán Magazine

Ice cream heaven began out of hellish circumstances, and I am grateful.

Mary Valle, known as the Scoop Goddess, started her business after Pho MX, a popular Vietnamese restaurant she managed, became a lockdown casualty.

But when she started Ela2, she was the happy face we looked forward to seeing, especially during those difficult days. 

When she was 8, her family moved from Spain to Mexico, where she pursued a career as a criminal attorney and worked for the federal Supreme Court. Then one day, the family started looking toward Mérida as a possible place for her parents to retire. 

Mary’s husband, Juan Barragán, was transferred here by his company, and in a whirlwind move five years ago, here they are. 

When the restaurant closed, they put their heads together and connected with a previous family trade: It turns out that ice cream is in her husband’s family tradition. So they decided to start making sorbets. Seeing a niche to fill, she then learned to make all-natural ice cream, sugar free, and vegan. 

The name Ela2 (ee-la-dos) is a play on words that mixes the Spanish word for ice cream — helados — and the Periodic Table of Elements, a sly reference to her parents’ careers as chemists. 

“I wanted a product that would make people happy but also that individual connection to each person in my community,” says Mary, who still delivers the product personally when not stationed at her table at the Slow Foods Market each Saturday. Mary also sells at Slow Food Mérida Norte, Tribu Ketzal, Natural Thangs Farmers Market in Chelem, and Crocodiles Restaurant in Progreso. Some restaurants carry it on their dessert menus, often with exclusive flavors, such as Butterscotch Whiskey at Hennessy’s Irish Pub.

The business is growing, but Mary states, “I want to continue to deliver my product. I find many people living alone who really appreciate good conversation.”

Find Mary Valle and Ela2 on Facebook

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