2018 has been the year of the pickle, with a pickle slush from Sonic, pickle ice cream, pickle juice cocktails, pickle corn dogs, pickle chips and pickle dip, plus pickle juice in jugs and cans. Here in the South, we’ve been fans of the pickle for much longer and we like the pickle with some interesting partners, too. Travel through the Mississippi Delta region and you’re likely to find the Koolickle, or a dill pickle soaked in cherry Kool-Aid.
Texas, of course, has its own love for the pickle and KoolAid combination (check out the lineup for the State Fair of Texas foods) but in true Texas style, they’ve also given it a spin you won’t find much outside the Southwest. The Piccadilly Raspa is a unique twist on a snow cone, bringing sweet and sour together in a cool treat. But to understand the Piccadilly Raspa, you first have to understand the raspa itself.
The name raspa comes from the Spanish term hielo raspado, or scraped ice. Basically, it’s a snow cone, but you might think of it more like Hawaiian shave ice, where you can get a mix of sweet and savory flavors. The ice is softer and smaller than in your typical snow cone (or snowball or snoball) and the toppings can get wild.
Raspas are serious business in Texas, which makes sense because Samuel Bert, who is credited with inventing the snow cone machine, first showed off his mechanical ice-scraping invention at the State Fair of Texas in the late 1920s.
You don’t have to search very far to find a raspa stand or food truck in South Texas. For example, there are at least 19 San Antonio raspa spots and the competition for best raspa is hot.
Fruits, vegetables, gummy bears, and other candies are all fair game, and the more piled up it is, the better. (Seriously, freakshakes are late to the party as far as raspas are concerned.) Big Daddy’s Eats & Treats in San Antonio has a raspa that looks like a bouquet of flowers and the prep counter for Chamoy City Limits, also in San Antonio, looks like a cross between a salad bar and an ice cream topping bar. And then there’s the SpongeBob from Frozen Friday’s, which is served in an actual pineapple.
The Piccadilly Raspa is where the raspa and the Koolickle meet. A basic Piccadilly starts with the shaved ice topped with chamoy sauce, which is a syrup made from pickled fruit. Generally, chamoy comes in red or green, and you may get some heat with it as well since most chamoy recipes use chilies or chili powder. Sprinkle cherry Kool-Aid over the ice and syrup, then top with diced dill pickles.
No one seems to know where the Piccadilly name came from, though we can guess it’s a play on dill pickle. If you’d like to try your hand at a Piccadilly Raspa, all you need is some good shaved ice, chamoy sauce (here’s a good recipe), and your favorite dill pickles. Whatever else you put on top is up to you!