With the price of ice cream climbing, it's nice to know a sudden summer snowstorm can cool things down for less money and no fat.
"To me, snow cones mean the arrival of summer filled with fun, freedom and life's simple pleasures," says Linda Ferrer, author of When Food Was Fun (Artisan, $9.95).
Rounded mounds of shaved, crushed or chipped ice packed into conical paper receptacles and drizzled in neon syrups are right out of the Americana cupboard, but the roots of these treats are definitely multicultural.
In 1533, a Florentine chef made a different flavored ice for each day of Catherine de' Medici's wedding celebration, giving many Frenchmen their first taste of the dessert. By 1576, there were 250 ice makers in Paris, writes James Trager in The Food Chronology (Henry Holt and Co., $40).
But the concept of flavored ice can be traced back much further. The ancient Chinese probably created the first flavored ices and spread the treat to the Persians and the Arabs, according to Trager.
European immigrants brought a love of refreshing repasts to this country.
The common denominator in these treats is a combination of ice and flavoring. And even with mechanical advances in crunching or shaving the ice, it's still pretty much the same dessert as it was more than 2,000 years ago.
Berry sno-cones: Stir 1 cup boiling water into 1 (8-serving) package gelatin (a red variety) until dissolved. Add 1 cup pureed strawberries, 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1/2 cup ice; stir until ice is melted. Fill 8 (8-ounce) paper cups with 1 cup crushed ice. Pour gelatin mixture over ice.
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