American pop culture is often succumbed to clichés and oft-time behind the times. I find that to be the case in so many facets of our daily developments and news. If it’s not “new” fashion trends (a friend mentioned learning of Eugenia Kim—a fabulous NY hat designer—and one I’ve known about for 10 years), it’s art or food. Yes, even food.
Let’s talk about food for the sake of this food blog and column. Food becomes popular in stages. Certain things celebrate 15 minutes of fame, no matter where it is originated; but of course, there are classics and timeless dishes and techniques that transcend the globe. There ingredients, plates, and the simplest culturally associated foods that need not be introduced any time or place.
The taco is one of them; a real pizza pie is another and coq au vin is a great example of that type internationally accepted, or at least, known dish.
It’d be nice if that were the case for most of what we eat, but that would hardly make our culinary findings exciting and adventurous. Case in point for today is the paleta, or fruit ice popsicle. An icy, if you will.
I recently found a “What’s In” insert in an American fashion magazine where the paleta was lauded as the new Mexican gourmet fruit bar to indulge in this summer. Hardly gourmet, let me put you on to something if you don’t already know: This is old news to us Latinas, especially if you grew up in a traditional Latin home! (How many of you had paletas right after jumping sprinklers or playing jacks?)
I grew up eating paletas since my childhood days in Miami, soon after we left Cuba. Mamey, a bland-but-delicious treat when injected with sugar, is a native Mexican fruit, and was one of my absolute favorite flavored bars during hot summer days. Ever since the unfortunate disappearance of the mamey flavor, I became obsessed with the coconut one, which has real chunks of coco and is made with milk or coconut water and ice, then frozen.
Since living in D.C. and Atlanta, I can’t find the real deal, unless I trek to a farmer’s market or a bodega. When I do find them, what a treat! I recently found a pack of 12, with an assortment of flavors like coconut, strawberry, tamarindo (something I’ll have to talk to you about later), limón and mango. Can you say “¡sue rico!?” It was the sweetest nostalgic moment I’ve had in a long time—and at $6, you can’t beat it!
Although I’m excited to see paletas making their way into mainstream American foodie culture, and even see the masses introduced to what most Latinos know so well, it’s no surprise it’s becoming a favorite. The paleta is the perfect go-to treat to refresh yourself. Pick up a few and share with your non-Latino friends—they’ll love it!
* This post originally appeared in my food column in LATINA.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.