We’re heading into deep summer here in Southern Arizona. Days typically top 100 degrees. It’s perfect time for a raspado. Raspados are sweet, creamy, fruity, sometimes a little salty, and always very cold. They are a cross between a Snow Cone, a slushie, and a fruit sundae. Perfect to cool you down from the inside out on a Tucson summer day. Since there is usually plenty of fruit, you could call it lunch.
The raspados that hail from Sonora are found throughout Southern Arizona and other spots where Mexican culture florishes. Similar treats appear throughout the tropical world, differing in detail from country to country.
The typical prep steps of the Sonoran style raspados are simple, but they vary from shop to shop. In general, it is a layer of shaved or finely crushed ice, then fruit in syrup, then the layers are repeated. A topping of sweetened condensed milk trickles down. Canned Mexican crema can be used instead of the condensed milk. Sometimes vanilla ice cream is the final layer. Or the ice cream could be added halfway up. Typical fruits are fresh strawberries or peaches. Go tropical with mango, coconut, or pineapple. Then there can be nuts or chile in some form. If you followed Tia Marta’s suggestion for gathering saguaro fruit, you could add some of that for a special regional flavor.
The fancier raspados called Macedonias include several fruits and more creaminess. Obviously, you’ll have to explore for yourself! Be bold with the flavors. There’s no way you can go wrong.
Carolyn Niethammer has been writing about ancient and modern foods of the Southwest for forty years. You can see her books at her website. She has a new book coming out (Fall 2020) on the 10,000 years of food history of the Santa Cruz Valley that is the basis for why Tucson was named the UNESCO World City of Gastronomy.