Mexico’s Spanish colonists imported tools to cook new dishes that soon became part of the traditional Mexican diet. Pork carnitas, pork skin and chales are cooked in large copper or sheet metal pots, as are milk candies, candied fruit, jams, preserves and fruit jellies known as ates—foods that were developed to take advantage of perishables such as fruit and milk in Colonial Mexico’s convents and residences.
Although they are used throughout Mexico, such pots are largely manufactured in communities such as Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán, and Zacualtipan de los Ángeles, Hidalgo. The coppersmiths of Michoacán take pride in the vessels they fashion, the product of strenuous teamwork required to forge and hammer copper. Despite the expense of their raw material, copper cooking vessels are handed down from generation to generation because of their durability and heat resistance. Sheet metal vessels, often used in markets and at butcher shops, are not so highly valued.