By Laura Marrich
As the mercury rises, my yen for sugar seem to skyrocket right along with it. Heat has an alchemical ability to thaw things. In my case, high temperatures unearth a potent blend of desire and memory, awakened by the sweet tastes of summer. The hottest part of my afternoon induces fantasies about bionicos; impossibly fresh chunks of fruit topped with thick, sweet cream, shredded coconut and granola. I used to get them in Los Angeles because they reminded me of home (despite the fact that I have yet to actually eat one here). They were simple but luxurious little packages, improved only by a front porch and friends. The last 20 minutes before sunset is synonymous with my first taste of agua fresca; the summer festival where I sneaked eyefuls of an enormous glass jar filled with real watermelon juice, its big black seeds bobbing seductively up and down. I remember the hollow echo of ice and metal colliding inside as the pink liquid was scooped out and plunked into my plastic cup. It wasn't at all what I expected. Its texture was thin rather than syrupy, its sweetness mild and clean, and slightly soapy. And now dusk is for the paleta man. Every evening, sandwiched between sunset and the last drop of daylight, I can hear the bell of his pushcart moving through my neighborhood. I have to be quick to catch him, though. He's a bit of a ghost.
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