Another post that brings me back to my childhood while growing up in the outskirts of Philadelphia and its plethora of suburbs. One of my favorite summertime treats (I was too young to know the beauty that is a soft-shell crab, mind you) was a local treat called Water Ice (pronounced “wooder ice” when speaking with a strong Philly accent) or as others call it Italian Ice. The memories I have is of being 8-years old and going to a corner store (it probably was Wawa – don’t be scared by the name – it’s one of the best local-chain convenience stores on this earth, no lie – anyone who knows Wawa, please comment!) with $1.00 and a need to cool down. I’d go over to the ice cream “chest” and, with all my might, pull open the sliding top. Choco-taco? Naaaah. Fudgsicles? Hells No! Firecracker or Push-Ups? NO! I came here for one thing and one thing only – WOODER ICE! And there she was every time, that lovely, simple, white cup with a paper “lid” that a child could easily remove with fingers or teeth – Lemon, Cherry or Watermelon Rosati-brand Italian Water Ice in a 6 ounce cup – wooden spoon included. This was one of my favorite brands growing up – especially lemon. I loved using that stupid wooden spoon to scratch off the top, super-frozen layer, knowing that with every passing minute, the water ice would melt a bit more making it easier for me to get bigger chunks to eat. By the time I was almost finished, I was left with a pool of sugary-tart lemony syrup-water.
See, I didn’t live in South Philly, but most of my extended family did. Water ice from the Water Ice stands there were a bit different than the frozen Rosati cups I would eat. Rosati’s was a bit like frozen flavored ice. The other type Philadelphia water ice is a bit creamier and very easily scooped into cups. Now in the Philadelphia area, water ice is so popular a huge chain called Rita’s Water Ice has emerged everywhere (almost like how Starbucks is everywhere). But, I miss those days of going into Wawa and grabbing a cup of Rosati’s. This recipe for Water Ice is closer to that one than the softer, scoopable Rita’s Water Ice. And, yes, when you scrape it with a spoon, it does kind of look like granita… but I refuse to call it that.
Whether you call it granita or water ice, cool yourself down with this fat-free treat. Make individual sizes by pouring the mixture in cups and freeze that way or make one large “tray” and scrape out however much you want. It’s refreshing, sweet, tart and will have you saying “Wooder Ice” in no time! Here’s a question for you – do you have any summertime sweet food memories that are similar or different from mine? I’m curious.
LEMON WATER ICE (SCRAPE-SYLE)
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- the zest of one lemon
What to do:
- Boil water and sugar together for a few minutes till they become one.
- Stir in lemon juice and zest.
- Pour into a glass bowl, glass baking pan, popsicle trays or individual ramekin and allow to freeze.
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