lick, slurp, sip, munch: what can you do with a paleta?

If you want a paleta, raise your hand!

Mango? Lime? Coconut? Strawberry? Pineapple? What do you fancy? We need one last tasty lick before summer ends.

Carmen Tafolla’s story makes me want to visit the girl narrator’s barrio — where “the smell of crispy tacos or buttery tortillas or juicy fruta floats out of every window, and where the paleta wagon rings its tinkly bell and carries a treasure of icy paletas in every color of the sarape.”

What Can You Do With a Paleta? is pitch perfect storytelling. Dr. Tafolla captures the fun, anticipation and utter deliciousness of this favorite Mexican ice pop treat, the very essence of summer and childhood.

And I LOVE the way she reads her story aloud. You’ll see what I mean:

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Wasn’t that great? My favorite part is the blue mustache. 🙂

Okay, I can see your mouth watering. Not to worry. Mr. Cornelius and I made some paletas just for you with our handy dandy Zoku ice pop mold.

He rolled a fragrant juicy ripe cantaloupe all the way home from the market, and the rest was as easy as 1,2,3, with Fany Gerson’s simple recipe.

In Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice and Aguas Frescas (Ten Speed Press, 2011), Gerson serves up recipes for paletas with or without dairy, and does not shy away from such tantalizing flavors as Hibiscus-Raspberry, Mexican Egg Nog and Spiced Tomato-Tequila. It’s a book worth owning if you already have or want to acquire an ice pop mold, since you can stay with the straightforward fruit recipes, or go as exotic as you like. There are lots of color photos and David Lebovitz finds the book “lickably luscious.” Good enough for me. 🙂

I must admit to finding myself strangely compelled to dance around the kitchen saying, “MeLON, MeLON, MeLON” over and over again. And from now on, I will call them “paletas,” not “ice pops” or “popsicles.” “Paleta” just sounds tastier, doesn’t it?

Muy delicioso!

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Yield: 8 to 10 pops

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups chopped fresh cantaloupe (about 1 small cantaloupe)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

1. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Pour the sugar syrup into a food processor or blender. Add the melon, lemon juice, and salt and blend until smooth.

3. If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours. If using glasses or other unconventional molds, freeze until the pops are beginning to set (1/2 to 2 hours), then insert the sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours.

Jama’s Tips:

* You can cut back on the sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit.

* If using Zoku molds, all you have to do is freeze the empty mold for 24 hours. When you are ready to make paletas, just pour in the juice mixture and it will freeze in about 7 to 9 minutes. Very fast! Chilling the juice in the fridge ahead of time makes it even faster.

* Beware of ursine kitchen helpers scarfing these up when your back is turned.

~ adapted from Paletas by Fany Gerson (Ten Speed Press, 2011)

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written by Carmen Tafolla
illustrated by Magaly Morales
published by Tricycle Press, 2009
Picture Book for ages 3-7, 32 pp.
*Available in both English and bilingual editions
**Winner of the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award


Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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