April 24, 2015
The English have their ice lolly which New Zealanders refer to as icy poles, and the Irish call freeze pops. In the United States they're called popsicles or ice pops. Europeans have the granizada. Hawaiians enjoy the shaved ice, while Italians partake in granita. Kulfi is the go-to treat for Indians, and shares the same creaminess as American ice cream, but tends to be denser, even a bit chewy owing to the rice or corn flour added to it.
Halo halo is a popular Filipino dessert with mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits; while patbingsu which in its most basic form is Korea's rendition of shaved ice which get a simple topping of sweetened adzuki beans; raspao, a shaved ice is popular in Panama. It is sweetened with artificial flavors or fruits, and you can add sweetened condensed milk or maple syrup, and the Mexicans have their popsicles known as paletas.
Even though it's still the beginning of spring, the mercury on the thermometer makes it feel like summer's already here, and there's no better way to enjoy the heat than sucking on a cool treat. Around the world, the icy treats are all different, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are definitely the go to summer treat. Wherever you go in the world, there is that perfect cool treat that helps to keep you cool as the mercury soars.
In The Bahamas in days of yesteryear, the "cup" or "baggie" -- a simple mixture of the flavor Kool-Aid of choice, water and sugar, frozen in a plastic Cup or plastic sandwich bag -- was the go to treat for kids seeking a cooling moment as they went about their fun in the sun.
It was a normal sight to see a kid sucking and licking on their frozen treat during those lazy, hazy hot days. It was normal to see children with their lips plastered into the plastic cups sucking away at the icy treat, or turning it upside down after sucking the "sweet" liquid from the top to get to the sugary goodness at the bottom; and the baggie lovers using their teeth to nip a corner out of the sandwich plastic bags through which they sucked their treat.
While the treat can still be found in some neighborhoods, or at school fairs opting to give students a taste of yesteryear, sadly the days of knocking on the neighbor's house to purchase that "cup" or "baggie" simply just isn't the norm -- and it's even rarer to see neighborhood kids running about the yard or in the streets, because they're indoors playing with their latest electronic gadget.
Chef Simeon Hall who considers himself a curator of Bahamian culinary arts who recently addressed students at a culinary school was in awe and disbelief that many of the students did not know about "cup" or "baggie" or even have a concept of what it was.
"Their responses scared and disappointed me," said Hall. "But their answers prompted me to challenge them to create what I believe will be the next generation of the 'baggie' Bahamian frozen treat.
While the chef was one of those kids that enjoyed the "cup" and "baggie" treats in his youth, as a chef, he says the professional in him could not prepare red, purple and orange Kool-Aid flavored "baggies" and "cups" and as a result, he created a template for the treats that would allow anyone to take fresh fruit and herbs, and transform the "cup" and "baggie" it into an upgraded, modern version of the nostalgic treat.
Now that spring is here, and summer around the corner, he says you can use his basic stepped up recipe to make the treats, and introduce your children to a favorite icy treat from your past if they have not had one as yet.
"A cold frozen drink in a plastic bag would take any and all of us back to a time and place filled with incredible memories. My hope is that this will remind people of a great past and take our younger Bahamians into a great future," said Hall.
CHEF SIMEON HALL'S
MANGO THYME BAGGIE
(frozen Bahamian summer treat)
1 cup fresh mango puree (substitute your favorite summer fruit puree)
3 cups distilled water
4 sprigs fresh thyme, optional
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 cup fresh cane juice (substitute 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 3/4 cup distilled water)
Simmer the water and thyme on low heat. Reduce the 3 cups to 2 cups to infuse the thyme flavor. Strain and cool.
Combine all the remaining ingredients and thyme water. Place in sandwich bag with twists. Freeze for 5 hours.
Serve semi or fully frozen on a hot day.
Pomegranate, beet root and strawberry, orange mango, tangy lime and white grape are also favorite combinations of mine for this cool summer treat.
Chef's tip: Freeze recipe in ice trays and add it to any glass of distilled water to make naturally flavored water the entire family will enjoy.
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