During the summer, the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue running through Jackson Heights is lined with vendors selling slices of mango and papaya. Tropical fruits spiked with hot sauce and salt help me cool off, but when it gets real hot I crave something much colder: a paleta. These Mexican popsicles come in much the same flavors as the fruit sold on the street: tamarind, mango, pineapple, cherry, guava, watermelon, etc. In my hood I most often find the Sley brand, which are made in Brooklyn. Until recently my faves were mango and chili, tamarind and chili, and, you guessed it, pineapple and chili. There’s nothing quite like sucking on a pepper-spiked popsicle on a sweltering summer day. I didn’t think it could get any more delicious or weird until yesterday.
What’s better than a cool crunchy pickle on a late summer day? A paleta that combines the flavor of a new pickle with a dose of heat. Sure, it sounds bizarre, but the combination of cucumber, salt, hot sauce and lemon works. I might just have to buy five or six of these suckers and throw them in the blender to create a savory Slurpee.
Sley’s paletas are available in many Mexican groceries in Jackson Heights. I’d love to provide the address of the record store where I bought mine, but the lady working there got camera shy and chased me away. Rather than send anyone on a wild pickle chase, I recommend visiting the shop where they’re made in Brooklyn. Who knows, you might even see yours truly there.
Sley Deli Grocery
42-17 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn NY 11219 (map)