With roasting temperatures, food items containing chile peppers are usually a hard sell.
But throw in some fresh fruit and a little ice, and people will beat a path to your door.
At least that's been the experience of Jaqueline and Alfonso Carrizosa, who opened Oasis Raspados in south Phoenix earlier this year. Raspados, better known in the Anglo world as Mexican snow cones, are the perfect remedy for the scorching summer.
Oasis Raspados, 6629 South Central Avenue, open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Call 602-423-0861 for information.
"Some people come in here once a day, some even twice a day," says Alfonso, who learned the art of making raspados from his grandfather, who sold the fruity concoctions in Hermosillo, Mexico.
The chamoyada and changito, raspados that are topped with a chile-infused lemon juice, are a big hit with Mexican nationals, who are seeking the comfort food from their homeland. And so is the Carrizosas' pico de gallo, which is not the tomato-based salsa we've come to know in the United States, but a Mexican fruit cocktail containing mango, watermelon, pineapple, orange, cantaloupe and, of course, chile pepper in lemon juice.
"My wife is the one who told me about the real pico de gallo," Alfonso says. Jaqueline Carrizosa, who was born in Obregon, Sonora, says she adds the Mexican flavor to the business while her husband, a Tucson native, maintains the American taste.
Their most popular raspado contains fresh strawberries and peaches, vanilla ice cream, and crushed ice, but customers can choose from mango, banana, watermelon and plum, among other fruits. The addition of ice cream is a slight variation from the traditional raspado, but it adds a boost of flavor. The Carrizosas also sell banana splits, fresas con crema and Mexican potato chips as well.
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Alfonso, who ran a raspado business in Tucson for 20 years, has plans to expand throughout the Valley. But he also understands that the demand for his chilly concoctions usually declines during the winter. That is why he plans to begin selling Sonoran-style bacon-wrapped hot dogs as well as Mexican-American chili dogs by the time the temperatures cool.
Not to be outdone, Jaqueline has already introduced coctel de elote (corn cocktail) to sustain them through the winter months. Traditionally sold on the roadsides in Mexico, the coctel de elote contains steamed white corn kernels, butter, a salty Mexican cream, chile and, if you like, mayonnaise.
For now, try a raspado.