Raspa de Sandía – Watermelon Ice
For a Summer dinner serve this Watermelon Raspada with blueberries and lime, refreshing and visually beautiful.
Watermelons were originally domesticated in central and southern Africa where they served not only as food but as an important water supply dating back 6,000 years. Through trade routes the watermelon reached India by 800 and China by 1100 and in both countries, as in Africa, the seeds are eaten, since they are a rich source of oils and protein.The Spaniards and African slaves brought the watermelon to Mexico and Texas where we call it sandía. Because it loves the heat, sandía spread rapidly through indigenous Texas communities, indeed throughout the entire indigenous communities of the US and along the Mississippi (Kiple & Ornelas, 2000).
By the sixteenth century watermelons were already cultivated by our ancestors, the indigenous communities in the Coahuiltecan region of southern Texas and northern Mexico (Kiple & Ornelas, 2000).
Today sandía is just part of our culture, an important part. Notice that the colors of the sandía match the colors of the Mexican flag. I think you will enjoy this delicious dish, a prime example of the significance of food pathways and the active, constant production of culture.
Recipe (makes about 8 servings and takes about 3 hours to freeze the crystals)
Simple Syrup: 1 cup sugar and ½ cup water to make simple syrup (combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, making sure all the sugar is dissolved, then cool down to room temperature)
8 cups diced seedless watermelon without the rind
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed Mexican lime juice
About 60 fresh blueberries
8 Mexican lime wedges
Place the watermelon and 2/3 cup of the simple syrup in a blender and blend until it is a completely smooth and very fine puree. There should not be any noticeable pulp. The more powerful the blender, the finer and therefore better the puree. If after blending it, the watermelon puree still has noticeable pulp, strain it through a coarse (not fine) mesh sieve.
Add the lime juice and taste, adjusting the sweetness with additional simple syrup or lime juice as necessary. The puree should be sweet but with a slight, subtle tang from the lime. Don’t make watermelon limeade.
Pour the watermelon puree into a 9” or larger baking dish and place it in the freezer. After 45 minutes, scrape the sides of the dish and push the frozen crystals to the center of the dish. Thereafter do this every 30 minutes or so. This process will make sure that fine crystals form evenly with no big chunks, hence “Raspada.”
After about 3-3 ½ hours, serve the iced watermelon in individual dishes and top with the blueberries and the lime wedge.
Kiple, K. F., & Ornelas, K. C. (2000). The cambridge world history of food. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.