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Jicaletas: This Popular Mexican Street Food, Explained

Mexico Food + Drink
by Matador Creators Jan 10, 2023

Ever craved a vegetable on a stick? Okay, it might not sound appealing when you put it that way. But jicama (a type of root vegetable) is one of the most popular street foods in Mexico. This version is called a jicaleta, and it’s a round flat slab of jicama skwered on a stick. The flavoring of jicaletas is where this snack gets really interesting.

@foodwtf #Jicaletas are a popular #streetfood in #Mexico 🇲🇽 #Jicama is cut into slices and topped with lime juice, chilli salt and other flavorings 🤤 🎥 @Ruta la Nueve #mexicanstreetfood #foodie #foodtiktok ♬ BIZCOCHITO – ROSALÍA

What gives jicaletas their distinctive flavor is chamoy, a sweet, tangy, and spicy condiment – similar in consistency to jelly – which is made with lime juice and dried chilies, mixed with a fruit, usually apricots or mango. A layer of chamoy is spread over the slice of jicema until the entire thing is covered. Then, it’s dipped in a layer of flavored sugar. The chamoy acts like a paste, making sure the sugar sticks to the jicama.

The flavored sugars are what make jicaletas so popular, especially among children. There are usually many different types of flavored sugar available from jicaleta stands, in a rainbow of colors, from blueberry to strawberry. You have your jicaleta dipped in several different types of sugar, too, so each bite you take has a different flavor. You can also have your jicaleta dipped in tajine, a chili lime flavored red salt. The jicaletas with layers of different colored sugars look like rainbow lollipops.

The crisp bite of the jicama might be reminiscent of apple, but it’s less sweet, so its a nice contrast to the tang from the chamoy and sweetness from the sugar. The way this treat is served is a homage to the paleta – or the ice cream bar – another refreshing fruit treat sold by street food vendors all over Mexico.

Jicaletas are sold by street food vendors all over Mexico, but if you have the right ingredients they can be made at home too. You will see jicaleta vendors selling this snack, especially in summer, alongside lots of other types of sliced fruit, like watermelon and mango.

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