Raspados/granizados: Shaved ice with a Latino flair

Picture yourself sightseeing in the tropics of Costa Rica or the historic streets of Colombia. The only problem is that it’s humid and hot. At…

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Picture yourself sightseeing in the tropics of Costa Rica or the historic streets of Colombia. The only problem is that it’s humid and hot. At this point, the one thing that can save the day is called a raspado or granizado that you buy off the streets.

Behold the “shaved ice,” an ice-based dessert that just about every country in Latin America has made their own.

SEE ALSO: Empanadas, the timeless bites

These wonderful delights are popular among many countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America –especially during the summer when it’s caliente!

They consist of ice shavings poured in a paper cone or cup, and mixed with endless of flavors and toppings, it’s that simple, yet oh-so-delish.

Some popular flavors that can decorate the shaved ice include dulce de leche (caramel), leche condensada (sweetened condensed milk). If you want to go that extra mile, you can always top it off with fruits, candy, cookie crumbs or pieces of cake.

One person who was amazed by this Latin tradition is Andrew Zimmern from Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods.”

His first encounter with a “raspado” or “granizado” (how it’s popularly known among Hispanics) was in Miami, Fla. when he visited a Nicaraguan family-owned business that specializes in these icy desserts.

After tweeting a photo of his “raspado,” which was of dulce de leche and crumbs of pound cake, he expressed his thoughts on his blog.

“Another Nicaraguan favorite is Raspados Loly’s, where they serve one of the best desserts known to man – a cup of shaved ice with layers of dulce de leche and poundcake. It’s the only place I’ve seen this outside of Central America and I can’t stop dreaming about it,” he wrote.

LEON, NICARAGUA – Raspados in Nicaragua are primarily sold in the streets. Many vendors decorate their carts, like this one in the colonial city of Leon. (Photo: VOXXI/Jessica Lucia Roiz)

Shaved ice nicknames around Latin America

  • Brazil – Raspadinha
  • Colombia – Raspado and also Cholado
  • Costa Rica – Copos and also Granizados
  • Cuba – Granizados
  • Dominican Republic – Frio Frio and also Yun Yun
  • El Salvador – Minuta
  • Guatemala – Granizado and also Raspado
  • Honduras – Minuta
  • Mexico – Raspado and also Mexican Ice
  • Nicaragua – Raspado
  • Peru – Raspadilla
  • Puerto Rico – Piragua
  • Panama – Raspado

Though nobody knows the origins of this treat, it is known that shaved ice traces its history to Japan, where it is known as kakigori and dates back to the Heian Period.

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The treat is sometimes compared to a snow cone, but as a side note –snow cones are made with crushed, rather than shaved, ice.

Shaved ice is also popular in other countries around the world including Hawaii, Italy, Taiwan, Korea, United States, Suriname, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Mauritius.