The Fourth of July holiday is behind us now, which means we're deep in the heart of summer. As the specter of several more weeks of triple-digit temperatures looms ahead, you at least have a very good excuse to eat and drink delicious things, all in the name of "keeping cool." We're talking citrusy cocktails, ice cream cones, and fresh summer fruit, consumed frequently and at will.
And speaking of fresh fruit, have you tried the Piña Loca yet? The "Crazy Pineapple" is a popular summer treat sold at many of Mexican antojitos ("little cravings") snack shops around town. The dish consists of a cored and hollowed pineapple, packed with hunks of seasonal fruit like cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, and sliced strawberries.
As with most Mexican street food snacks, the fruit is spiked with blasts of acid, salt, and heat. Depending on where you get your Piña Loca, spicy garnishes like Tajin chile seasoning, or maybe a few lashings of sweet-and-sour chamoy sauce, will likely be in order.
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Sometimes your Piña Loca will be garnished with cacahuates japoneses, the candy coated peanuts sold at Mexican candy stores, embellished with skewers of pineapple, or decorated with a jaunty little tropical umbrella. The Piña Loca is about as subtle as a a Fourth of July fireworks show, but that's part of the fun.
The fruit salad treat, so popular legend goes, was popularized on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, but today you can find it in pretty much every corner of the Valley. Around metro Phoenix, you'll find variations of the Piña Loca at El Migos Water-n-Ice, an ice cream shop near 43rd Avenue and McDowell Road. You can also find it being made at Neveria Paraiso, near 24th Street and Thomas Road.
But look for the Piña Loca at any of your local neverias (ice cream shops), where it usually runs about $8 to $10, and easily feeds two or three. Don't wait too long, though, because summer, thankfully, won't last forever.