Restaurants & Bars

Palin, Gautemala: Atol by candlelight

rworange | Dec 26, 201112:16 PM

Palin’s claim to fame is the Guatemala’s largest and oldest ceba, the national tree.

It shades a huge town square. At the back of that plaza is Guatemala’s best atol stand. It is open daily from 6am to midnight.

Guatemala must have the more different types of atol than anywhere in the world. It is spelled and pronounced atol (ah-TOLL), not atole (ah-toll-lay).

In a country with great atol, this stand has the best I’ve tried.

We arrived almost at closing. Fortunately there was still some delicious arroz con leche, which is like warm, comforting rice pudding.. Unfortunately they had run out of the casamiento atol my friend wanted.

There was still some pan con pollo, the modest sandwich sold in almost every street corner. Fifty cents will buy a dab of shredded chicken salad on a soft white roll fresh from the local bakery.

Completing our moonlight picnic were fat whole fried plantanos bathed in rich crema.

At 12 am the town turned off the huge floodlights in the plaza. No problem. The ladies pulled out candles and we finished our midnight snack gossiping with them about food, family and life in general.

The small town of Palin is half way between the west coast and Antigua.

It is pronounced Pah LYNN. If you pronounce it like Sarah’s last name no one knows what you are talking about.

There is a large market area. I’ve been on market days but it didn’t seem any larger than on my other visits. I have found some unique produce there.

I have to thank McDonald’s for one of the most memorable and delicious moments in Guatemala because at 11 pm they ran out of the orange chocolate shake I wanted. It was a silly thing, but I literally had a meltdown.

A year of the brutal tropical heat of coastal Guatemala had taken a toll on me and I decided that it was going to be my last night in the area. Any remaining time would be spent in the cool and relative civilization of Antigua … and I wanted THAT milkshake or nothing.

My friend suggested the atol stand in his home town of Palin that is open until midnight.

It was magic. The humble, but tasty meal made the world right again … but I still took off for Antigua the next day.

It has been over six months since I’ve returned to the United States. There are still lots of reports I wrote way back when but never posted because I didn’t have time to edit the photos. Unfortunately candlelight and my camera were not simpatico, so these particular photos are worse than usual.

Before the year ends, I want to wrap up all those great places I have not yet mentioned.

The atol stand in Palin is a one of my most cherished memories. I highly recommend a stop if passing through that town.

Flickr photo stream such as it is.

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