Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder. Wonder Wonders, “What is piragua?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder!
How do you cool off on a hot summer day? Do you go for a dip in the pool? Find a place in the shade? Maybe you grab a big glass of water or even an ice cream cone. Or perhaps you’re a fan of the frozen treat at the center of today’s Wonder of the Day—piragua!
Have you ever eaten a piragua? If so, you know there aren’t many tastier ways to treat yourself on a warm day. If not, you may be WONDERing what we’re talking about. The piragua is a flavored shaved ice that originated on the archipelago of Puerto Rico.
However, the piragua isn’t just any other snow cone or cup of shaved ice. Unlike these, the piragua takes a distinctive pyramid shape. It’s also eaten using a straw (or even just the mouth!) instead of with a spoon.
The shape of this frozen snack is also where it got its name. It’s a combination of two Spanish words: pirámide (pyramid) and agua (water). In most other Spanish-speaking regions, the word is used to describe pyramid-shaped boats that look a bit like canoes.
In Puerto Rico, though, there’s no confusing a piragua for a boat. On the hottest days, piragüeros (people who sell piraguas) populate the streets and sidewalks. They stand at their carts below umbrellas that protect them from the Sun.
Most piragüeros make each piragua when it’s ordered so that they are fresh. They even shave the ice by hand! Most often, they use a hand-held tool to shave directly from a large block of ice. Then, they place the ice in a cone and shape it into a pyramid. Last, they add flavored syrup.
What flavors do piraguas come in? Just about any that you can imagine! Popular flavors include cherry, coconut, and lemon. Many people prefer cream piragua, which some compare to vanilla ice cream. Other popular choices include strawberry, anise, and passion fruit.
For many Puerto Ricans, piraguas and piragüeros are an important part of the island’s culture. They’re an essential part of summer in the region. Of course, these frozen treats have also become popular in other areas, spread by people of Puerto Rican descent.
You may see piragüeros in many parts of New York City, Chicago, and Miami. They’re especially common in areas with large populations of people with Puerto Rican heritage.
Many people also make piraguas at home. The traditional method is to use a hand-held ice shaving tool, just like a piragüero. However, mechanical ice shavers are also available. Once the ice is prepared and shaped, there’s just one thing left to do. Add the flavor of your choice, and dig in.
Have you ever eaten a piragua? Would you like to? Who knows? You might just find your new favorite frozen treat!
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.SL.3, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3