After four months of living and working in New York City, I bid goodbye to the neighborhoods I’d come to love and flew down to Puerto Rico to spend 12 days with my Tía (Aunt) Nora and cousin Annette. I realize I am very lucky to have family living in an awesome place (read: paradise), and it definitely has its perks, among which is the insider knowledge. One of my final days in PR, my aunt took me to an ice cream place in the small mountain town of Lares. (Lares actually was the site of one of the first revolts against Spanish Rule back in the day. Read more here.) “They have garlic ice cream!” is about all she told me beforehand.
Heladería de Lares does have homemade garlic ice cream, along with avocado, cod, rice and beans, and cheese, as well as more traditional sweet treat flavors, like the delicious rum and raisin. The heladería was fairly empty while we were there, so we were able to ask questions and sample a slew of flavors, all of which were light and sweet — even avocado. Corn was my personal favorite and it’s also a top seller, according to the very patient (but after half an hour, slightly annoyed) woman helping us. Small kernels of corn broke up the smooth ice cream, which had the consistency of gelato. Eating it tasted almost like biting into a piece of sweet cornbread. Icy, refreshing cornbread, that is.
The flavors were so intriguing to me that I just had to share them with the world, or at least try. Below is a video of the flavors, which Tía Nora and I attempt (and occasionally fail) to translate along the way. One that proved difficult was quenepa, which is a tropical fruit they sell on produce trucks roadside in PR and also goes by mamoncillo. (If that helps at all. I had no idea what a mamoncillo was, either.) I’ll have to try one of the fruits — and its Heladería de Lares counterpart — when I return!
-Karina for TKGO