Snow Cones: Frozen Bliss in a Paper Cup

Snow cones bring very dear memories of my childhood in Venezuela... The syrupy concoction, served in a paper cup, was always the right treat after running around like maniacs at the park, under the sun of Caracas' warm afternoons.
I still remember perfectly that corner, in which all of us, the kids from my neighborhood, would line up in front of a very old fashion cart with a happy hot dog painted on it. We would wait there, standing patiently to be rewarded with a hot dog and a snow cone or "raspaito" topped with sweet condensed milk, the two wonderful creations of this angelical, Italian man, who owned the cart, and served everyone with a smile, everyday, for many years. 
It was something simple, something cool to look at, a cart with an antique ice shaver vigorously shredding one rock of ice after another, and hot dog buns coming out of a mysterious, steamy drawer. It was just a quick bite on the way home, something to calm us down before dinner,  but the happy atmosphere around, the unique flavors, and the satisfaction of the broken ice freezing my mouth and the tip of my nose, still remain fresh in my mind.
A few weeks ago, our family gathered at my sister-in-law's farm in Virginia. She surprised the kids with one of those modern snow cone machines that automatically, just with a push of a button, turns ice into slush. It happened to be a very hot, humid weekend and the kids had a blast making snow cones without restrictions... Like childhood in Venezuela, it became an outdoor party around the machine with everyone standing patiently in line, talking and laughing, while the older kids served the ice on the cups, and the little ones poured the syrup over... It got a little messy, but there is something magical about snow cones. Like a frozen bliss, they bring an instantaneous pleasure, that makes us close our eyes, cool down and feel good...
It will be very hot in New York this weekend and we are already thinking of snow cones, lemonade, and spending time by the water... Wherever you go, have a great weekend, look for snow cones and stay cool!!        

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