There is nothing better to beat the heat than a cup full of shaved ice drenched in a fruity syrup, condensed milk and, why not – a touch of salt and a dribbling of the sweet and sour chamoysauce.
These snow cones, sold out of curb-side carts, are known as “raspados” (literally: “scraped” ice) and are a ticket back to childhood, as noted by María Eugenia Valladolid, who manages a mobile stand in South Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“When my friends and I would skip school, we always ate some raspados,” she said while putting together an order of 10 multicolored snow cones. “I’ve been at this spot for 11 years and I’ve seen how adults enjoy it as the children eat these raspados.”
These bulging snow cones, delicious on hot days, are a traditional and refreshing option, said Matty Gaytán, who runs a snow cone stand in Plaza Santa Cecilia in east Tulsa.
“The syrups are natural and we have many flavors,” she said, while working as a long line formed in front of the business. Among the buyers was Saúl Rosales, who said that the “diablito” (little devil) snow cones are his favorite. “The combination of sweet and spicy with the coldness of the ice is the best.”
Félix González prefers “sweet topping the sweet,” so he ordered his coconut-flavored raspado with condensed milk. “This is really a dessert,” he said.
Griselda Peña opened a snow-cone stand on April 15 in east of Tulsa. “My snow cones are not ground up ice with syrup,” she said while cleaning the tips of the bottles containing the fruit flavors. “My snow cones are a natural dessert; you taste the fruit throughout.”
Esteban Carrillo claims to be “king” of the raspados – or at least that’s what it says on his cart along Route 66 in southwest of Tulsa.
“My snow cones are different from the others because they have flavor from beginning to end. That’s because they have syrup down inside, in the middle, and on top,” he said, noting that he opened in mid-April this year because it got hot early. “I have some very sweet flavors and spicy flavors. Something to suit everybody.”
Gerardo Sánchez is a regular at Carrillo’s business. “I like the sweet to be very spicy. That’s why I come here, at least twice a week,” he said as he waited for his snow cone with mango, watermelon, pineapple and strawberry, and topped with salsa Valentina and a dash of lime.
So if you are facing an unbearably hot day, meet it head on with a snow cone. If the temperature does not drop, at least you will have enjoyed a customized frozen dessert.
Snow cones have other names in Spanish, such as in . . .
Mexico, Colombia, Panama: Raspado
Chile: Mermelada con hielo
Dominican Republic: Frío, Frío
Puerto Rico: Piragua
Photos by Juan Miret