I remember how much fun summer was when I was a little girl. From swinging on the swings at the local park to playing dodge ball on city streets with my primos y primas, summer was the season where Mami let her guard down…a little. She was extra protective, especially since my neighborhood of Washington Heights had many dangers. It was not for the faint of heart.
For me, however, Washington Heights was at its best in the summer. Sure, it was overcrowded and covered in litter, but as a child all I could see was how fun it was. Men gathered to play dominoes, yelling at the top of their lungs when they won; women chatted amongst themselves while keeping an eye on their kids. And the kids—we ran and ran until we dripped with sweat.
Luckily, our mamis came to the rescue with these refreshing Latin treats:
image: Getty/Laura Natividad
A guallao or frio frio is a snow cone—Latino style. You buy them from a street vendor that stands on the street with a cart and a block of ice, yelling, “Guallao, guallao!” Once you approach him, he scrapes some ice off of the giant block and packs the ice in a plastic cup, and you choose a flavor: frambuesa, mango, tamarindo, just to name a few. My personal favourite is frambuesa (raspberry). This treat is as tasty and sweet as it is refreshing.
image: Getty/Mike Powell
La pompa (a fire hydrant) may not be something you eat, but it is a great way to beat the summer heat. In the city, we open fire hydrants and kids play in the water after school. It may not be the most environmentally-friendly thing to do, but when there’s a heat wave there’s an open pompa.
image: Getty/Marilyn Conway
A paleta is a homemade ice pop, and many Latina mums make these delicious and thirst-quenching treats at home. It’s super easy. Just buy a ice pop pan, sticks, and fruit. Squeeze the fruit juice into water, pour the flavored water in the ice pop pans, and freeze for a few hours. Just like guallaos, paletas can be of any flavor. My mum used to make them out of cherry and watermelon. The more tropical the paleta, the better it is.
image: Getty/Andreas Metz
What’s more refreshing than a coconut? Coconut water! They sell this tasty treat at local bodegas in Latino neighborhoods. Your kids will feel cooler with just one sip.
Jugo de Tamarindo
image: Getty/PhotoAlto/Isabelle Rozenbaum
Mami used to try to give me jugo de tamarindo (tamarind juice), but I wasn’t into it. Although this juice is perfect to quench your thirst and has amazing health benefits, I didn’t like the sweet and sour taste. However, my brother, sister, and primos y primas would gulp down tamarind juice. It was, and still, is the perfect healthy treat to freshen up the familia.