Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Raspado, Shaved Ice Drink Heaven

What works best on a hot day, when your mouth is dry and your body is overheating?
A fizzy drink, that doesn’t quite hit that mark and leaves your mouth dry 5 minutes later.
A bottle of water, that may cool you down for a while but just doesn’t satisfy you.
Well in Cartagena there are vendors wandering around with rickety old carts, loaded with bottles of fruit syrups and big blocks of ice waiting to refresh your spirit.
The drink is called Raspado. It literally means grated or shaved, and in this case it’s the ice that is shaved.
A block of ice is shaved into a bowl by an ancient machine that may have been used to do the same thing in his grandfather’s day. The vendor scoops the shaved ice into a paper cup and a fruit syrup of your choice is poured over the top and allowed to soak in. To finish it off, condensed milk is drizzled over.
It’s sweet and fruity, it definitely cools you down and it so hits the mark.
It is an act of faith that the ice is made from clean water, but as people in the Americas have slightly stronger stomachs than us folk in Europe or North America, no one seems to give it a second thought. I seem to have an iron stomach after so many years of travelling in Asia, so I survived this near death experience, as someone would call it.
The choice of syrups was numerous. I choose mora (loganberry), as they are the only berries that you can buy in Medellin, well apart from unripe yellow strawberries and I’d become kinda addicted to its tart taste.
The condensed milk adds a sweetness that works well on this cooling sweet drink. It went down very well, and it was cheap, which in Colombia makes it a hit.

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