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From Mexico via Freo to the Fringe
The West Australian Picture: Robert Duncan

Ami McDonald's paletas - scrumptious Mexican icy-poles on a stick - have come a long way in a short time. Now, her business, La Paleta, is about to win new friends among Fringe World festival goers. For McDonald's paletas are no ordinary lemon crush or cola icy-poles. Think instead roasted bananas and toasted coconut. Or strawberry and hibiscus. Cucumber lime chilli. And salted caramel, which is La Paleta's best seller.

It doesn't matter how many she makes, McDonald relates, she invariably sells out.

"It's the hardest and most expensive one to make but people get angry with me if I don't have it," she says. One fan travels from Bayswater to the La Paleta stall at Fremantle growers' market for her weekly salted caramel paleta. La Paleta can also be found at events such as the Beaufort Street Festival, weddings and private functions. And now La Paleta is preparing to keep Fringe festival patrons cool. McDonald studied theatre design, set and costume design at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, and when she graduated, was looking for extra income to support herself between theatrical gigs.

A Christmas present of a commercial popsicle maker in 2011 sowed the seeds of the business.

"For two weeks I couldn't put it down - we were just making the craziest concoctions," McDonald says.

She now rents a commercial kitchen and employs a network of friends to help in the business. Theatre work has been jettisoned.

"Now I just run La Paleta but not for a minute have I felt unsatisfied," she says.