When the summer months roll in and the temperature rises, so can tempers and work inefficiency. But then you can always enjoy some cold or frozen treats to get you back smiling and more relaxed in the summer heat.
This is quite a common situation in places like Texas, where the summers can be unbearably warm. But then you also have shops that sell frozen goods. You can go into a Bahama Buck’s, and get yourself a frozen treat to warm yourself.
The prices are actually pretty reasonable, so it’s not as if you’re buying a luxury food item. An Island Smoothie is over $5, and that’s about the same price for the lemonades, floats, frozen lattes, and shaved ice Snos.
Which leads us to the Bahama Buck’s Sno in particular. This is one of the greatest treats ever (at least to fervent fans) when you have to deal with Texas summers. They use finely crushed ice, along with more than a hundred different syrup flavors. You also have lots of different toppings to pick from. The menu flavor combinations are all fun, but you can always come up with your own combination of flavors to suit your particular tastes. In some cases, experimenting on different flavors is a huge part of the fun.
But what’s more, fun is to get out of the country and see new sights. And along the way, you can enjoy that particular country’s version of a shaved ice treat. It’s a great choice especially when you’re south of the border because some Latin American countries can really give you a new perspective on what a shaved ice treat is all about.
If you’re curious, then you should try the following versions of shaved ice snow cones in places where they mostly speak Spanish:
Piragua in Puerto Rico
Traveling to Puerto Rico from the US mainland is less of a hassle. You don’t need a passport, they use US dollars, and they’re not really all that different from most Americans. Their cuisine can be rather interesting, and they also have their own version of the snow cone.
They call this treat piragua, and it’s a crucial part of the summer culture in Puerto Rico. The name piragua is a combination of piramide (“pyramid”) and agua (“water”). During the hottest days of the Puerto Rican summer, you’ll often find the piragua sellers (piragüeros) setting their stands on sidewalks and streets, usually under an umbrella to protect them from the hot sun.
They’ll start making the piragua once you order one, scraping the block of ice by hand so the ice isn’t really as fluffy as what you’d get from a machine. They’ll put the ice in a plastic cup and then shape the ice into a tall pyramid (hence the name). They’ll top the ice with some flavored syrup as well. Finally, instead of a spoon, they’ll serve it with a straw so you can slurp the melted ice that has mixed with the syrup.
The most popular syrup flavors are lemon, coconut, and cherry, but you may also have options like pineapple, melon, passionfruit, sesame seed, anise, strawberry, and tamarind. A popular option is the cream piragua, which some say resemble vanilla ice cream quite a bit.
Piragua treats are actually popular throughout the Americas, especially in places with large Boricua populations. That means you can get piragua in states like Florida and New York, and in many countries in South America too. In some places, they may also use toppings such as sweetened condensed milk and dulce de leche.
This is a classic summer treat in Mexico, and in many places where you’ll find huge Mexican immigrant population. The name comes from the Spanish word raspar, which means “to scrape”. They scrape the ice by hand using a metal tool which they call (unsurprisingly) raspador.
Like the piragua, you usually get your raspado with a straw for slurping. The raspado usually uses flavored syrup along with some milk, and sometimes there are small bits of fruits as toppings. The most common flavors are eggnog (“rompope”) and tamarind.
The raspado is actually quite common throughout Latin America, although they may use different names for it. It’s called cholado in Colombia, and granizado in Cuba. But whatever name that’s used for it, it’s just as great.
This is the usual name for their shaved ice treat in Peru and Bolivia, although some call it raspadilla. However, this is one shaved ice treat that you can’t find anywhere else except in those 2 countries. What makes the shikashika unique is that it has to be made with the glacier ice that comes from the Andes mountains. If you use any other ice, then it’s not shikashika at all.
They even made a documentary film about the process, starting with the harrowing journey to the huge glacial apron of the mountain, where they use an axe to cut large blocks of glacier ice. They then strap these ice blocks onto mules, so they can bring them down through steep granite canyons.
So, if you’re ever in Bolivia or Peru, think about how those brave souls risked their lives just so you can enjoy your yummy shaved ice treat!
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