Sometimes you find food. Sometimes food finds you.
I heard the jingle from Roberto’s cart before I saw him.
When I was in Costa Rica last month, I had an afternoon to explore San Rafael de Heredia, the nearest town to my school’s campus. I asked another teacher to orient me to a good place for coffee and the resale clothing store I’d heard about. First things first.
And that afternoon, I really wanted a soda. Though I’ve made noises about giving up soda, I haven’t. I love soda.
Fun fact: Little snack bar cantina places in Costa Rica are also called sodas. And a fun fact about me is that I’m from West Virginia, where according to my experience, and the graphic below by Matthew T. Campbell, we say “pop.” Somehow I’ve shed my “pop” for “soda,” much as I have forsaken the Diet Pepsi of my parents for the clearly superior beverage experience of Diet Coke.
A Diet Coke, or Coca Light as it’s marketed there, is precisely what I had in mind. When I saw Roberto’s lineup of bottles with their bright labels, I thought I’d buy one from him instead of going to a store. Also, I liked his style, his unhurried gait, his gray fanny pack and screaming yellow don’t-hit-me vest.
I asked in my clumsy Spanish if I could take a picture of him and his cart. Sure, he said. Could I buy a drink? Sure. Which is the best flavor, I asked, thinking that he’d hand me a bottle that looked like the ones on his cart. He picked up a red drink. OK, I said.
But this beverage making became an artisanal process. Roberto shaved ice from a block, funneled it into a plastic cup, and poured some red syrup on it. Then–plot twist–he spooned a small mound of powered milk before he sculpted more ice into something resembling a snow cone. (I can report that as the ice melted, the powdered milk took the beverage in a Strawberry Quik direction.)
Roberto told me the drink is called a granizado, which, I later learned, is also the past participle for the verb “to hail.” Sweet.
Don’t you want to take a picture of the drink, he asked. Some other norteamericanos took a picture of it. I took a photo and showed it to him. He nodded his approval.
In the mood for more great pictures of sweet treats? Check out Wanderfood Wednesday (this week features Beaver Tails).