all the world is a paradise with shave ice

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by NATASHA YOUNG

Shave ice, in all its delicious and un-nutritious glory, has been widely regarded as a Hawaiian treat, but variations of snowy-styled desserts can be found nearly all over the world. 

In 11th century Japan, nobles would eat shaved ice. The Japanese name for shave ice is kakigori, and is made of pure shaved ice with a sweet sap, usually from ivy, giving the ice a beautiful golden hue. Kakigori was only for the elite because it required long-term storage of ice harvested in the winter, only to be eaten the following summer. Today, anyone can enjoy kakigori as a delicious treat, no matter the season!

Kakigori inspired many other Asian iced desserts. One example is the Philippino halo-halo. Literally translated from Tagalog as mix-mix, halo-halo is comprised of shaved ice, condensed milk and assorted toppings, including but not limited to; jellies, corn, fruit, leche flan (sweet custard) and ube (also known as purple yam) ice cream. Halo-halo got its origins during Japanese occupation in the Philippines prior to WWII. Philippino and Japanese culture began to diffuse resulting in a Philippino adaptation of kakigori; halo-halo. Other kakigori inspired desserts include Hawaiian shave ice and Korean pat bing soo.

The rest of the world’s origins of shaved iced desserts are less concrete. Italian ice, called granita in Italian and sorbet in French, is similar to ice cream but does not contain dairy products. Primarily made of ice, sugar and flavoring, Italian ice’s inventors have been suspected to be either the Arabs, the Sicilians, the Europeans, the Turkish, the Chinese, the French or the Spanish. It is commonly believed that Italian ice came into being by accident, due to someone putting sarbat, a syrupy drink, on ice for too long.

Mexican raspados are also a bit of an enigma in history. “Scrape” in Spanish is raspar, hence raspados translating to scraped or shaved ice. Raspados are widely enjoyed in Mexico and Southwestern United States with its multitude of fun flavors such as leche (condensed milk and cinnamon), picosito (chili-lime), chamoy ( fruit and chili sauce), tamarind, cucumber and guava. Raspados can also be found in Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Panama. 

Regardless of nationality, anyone can enjoy a shaved ice treat. It is perfect for conquering summer heat and is nearly universal. Shaved ice may not be the singular answer to world peace, but as a common feature of several cultures— perhaps it is a step in the right direction towards it. 

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