Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas

Food for Thought: Summer Reading

Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas

by Fany Gerson (Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 128 pp)

In the summer of 2010, cookbook author and Mexico City native Fany Gerson launched her very own business, La Newyorkina, purveying paletas (frozen pops) at New York City's Hester Street fair. As a result, her follow-up to her James Beard-nominated cookbook My Sweet Mexico features traditional and modern recipes for these refreshing treats. Although the focus is on paletas, as the title implies, Gerson also covers recipes for raspados (shaved ice), granizados (granita), and aguas frescas.

Gerson's variety of paleta recipes range from classics like strawberry, coconut, and watermelon, to such unique creations as blackberry yogurt, lime pie, roasted banana, and mezcal orange. Of course, the ones that first caught my eye were the sweet-spicy varieties, like pineapple with chile, and a truly inspired paleta de sangrita, the classic tequila chaser served in Mexico's cantinas. Despite the unusual flavors, all recipes are super easy: the five-ingredient recipe for avocado paletas has to be the no-brainer of the season, and one you will want to make again and again.

For the raspados and granizados, Gerson goes to the streets of Mexico for inspirations like raspado de rompope (Mexican eggnog), raspado de tamarindo (tamarind), and mangonadas (a granita of mango spiked with chiles and chamoy). But I am smitten by these two creations: a michelada granita served with dark lager poured over it, and a queso fresco granita drizzled with Granny Smith apple and piloncillo syrup. The agua fresca recipes are all traditional, including lime with chia seed (a Mexican staple); pineapple, lime, and alfalfa; and horchata de melón (made with cantaloupe seeds instead of rice), all guaranteed to quench any summertime thirst. All said and done, Paletas is one of those cookbooks that makes me want to drop everything and get in the kitchen, pronto!

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