Essay :: The Good Luck Bonne Chance Raspa Stand

Four raspa sizes at Bonne Chance

I’m standing in the parking lot of the rundown shopping center by my house. I’m here for my weekly run to the kiosk where I fill my distilled water bottles. And while I’m grimacing at the water glugging into the five-gallon jug, I feel the tiniest wisp of a cool breeze tease a finger along the back of my uncovered neck. I stop grinding my teeth at the too-slow water machine to look up because maybe I can see where that breeze is coming from, right?

As if on cue, a gaggle of migrating geese make a wobbly arrow across the lean blue late afternoon sky, and I note that the Good Luck Bonne Chance Raspa Stand has got a short line tonight. The bottle of water burps to tell me it’s full. I screw on the cap, plíe, and scoop the heavy bottle up to my shoulder, so I can walk over and set it on the front passenger seat of my car.

The Good Luck Bonne Chance Raspa Stand is selling Cucumbers On a Stick tonight, covered in chili powder and lime. There’s World’s Best Corn in a Cup and Hot Fritos ‘n’ Xtra Cheese if you want them, and for a limited time only, you can get a Double Tiger’s Blood Raspa, Everybody’s Favorite Sno-Cone Treat.

The dinner rush at Good Luck Bonne Chance is short right now, so I do what I never do: Close the door to my car and walk over to get in line. The woman inside Good Luck Bonne Chance has to bend down and stick her head through the window to take my order when it’s my turn. Her gold hoops glint brightly against her dark curly hair. The scent of fresh-steamed corn on the cob and sno-cone syrup clings to her clothes like a summer perfume.

Shaved Ice at Bonne Chance

“Tell me,” I say. “What is a Double Tiger’s Blood Raspa?”

“Oh, that.” She shrugs, a little embarrassed. “It’s just a regular Tiger’s Blood Raspa with some extra syrup.”

“May I have a single Tiger’s Blood, a small, please? And another small, but could you make that one Peachy Vanilla? And I would very much like—” I pause, realizing just how hungry I am. “I would very much like a Cucumber On a Stick. With extra chili and lime. Please.”

I hand her my cash. She drops my change expertly into my cupped hand and leaves me to stand at the window and wait while she peels the cucumber and puts shaved ice into two cups. Everyone else has already finished eating and gone home, even the young grandfather who put his hand on each of his grandchildren’s heads when he ordered their treats. (“She will have… and he will have…”)

Another cool breeze makes a delicate crown of cool air around my bare head.

“Autumn is coming.” I say out loud.

The woman running Bonne Chance tonight says, “What?” She can’t hear me over the air conditioner and her ringing phone and the little radio she’s got playing just inside the counter by her tip jar. She’s putting all my things in a little white cardboard box with the old-fashioned tabbed corners.

“Thanks for making my order,” I say as she walks back to the window.

“Oh! You’re welcome,” says the woman. She puts my box on the counter, and looks around the empty parking lot.

“Looks like autumn is coming, don’t you think? Just feel that little breeze.”

Bonne Chance Ordering Window

PHOTO CREDIT: Bluebird Blvd.

6 thoughts on “Essay :: The Good Luck Bonne Chance Raspa Stand”

  1. But..but…what are those things you bought???? And who dispenses distilled water??? Reading your post today I felt as if I was reading about an alien world. I have an undersink water filter unit connected to a tiny little tap next to the main tap on the sink. Have to replace the filters twice a year but still cheaper than buying in distilled water.

    1. I was hoping someone would ask these questions, and here you are Meeks! Thank you!

      Locally, the tap water comes out of a gigantic lime-filled aquifer. It’s some of the cleanest water in Texas. The aquifer itself is carefully protected against contaminants, which is unusual for Texas because we have a tendency to defer to what’s called “big bidness.” That said, as of the mid-2000s there was a vote and the city decided to add fluoride to the water. Fluoride is not good for my health, personally, so I do not use tap water for drinking or cooking. I take these big BPA-free five-gallon jugs and go fill them up for one dollar at a place by my house that distills out contaminants and fluoride.

      The lime deposits in the water are just massive, Meeks, and that’s why I don’t filter my own water at home— I tried with smaller home filter systems. I really should do a cost-comparison between the two because I drink a TON of water a day.

      The things I bought:

      A raspa is also called a sno-cone. Sno-cones are shaved ice with flavored syrup poured on top so that it soaks all the way through the ice. Often they are served in paper cones, but this one was served in a wide-bottomed paper cup. Tiger’s Blood is a blood orange flavored raspa. I eat one about every four years because they can be all sugar. Some raspados contain different forms of dried and salted plums, called chamoy or (inaccurately) Chinese candy. Some raspados contain only real fruit. Here’s a truly faithful recipe for raspados that’s healthier than what I had that day:

      Corn in a cup: Here’s a wonderful story explaining what it is, and how to make it. (I don’t eat cheese at all anymore, so this is more or less off-limits. But I DO use Tajin Fruit and Snack Seasoning chili-lime powder on my fruit. It’s so yummy! Just let me know if you’d like me to send you some!

      Cucumber in a cup: Here’s how to make one, courtesy of the Spicie (sic) Foodie:

      Here’s a different variation that’s more standard in Mexico:

    2. Mmmm…. 🙂 I’m a bit hesitant about all the chili, but reading all those lovely recipes brought back some memories of my own.

      I grew up eating nothing but traditional Hungarian food, and one of the my favourites was/is cucumber salad. Peel cucumbers, slice paper thin, salt, let stand, squeeze out all the juice, mix with mashed garlic, toss in some good white vinegar, and sprinkle the top with sweet Hungarian paprika powder. 🙂

      The only recipe that confused me was the one for sweet corn. Over here we cook the corn on the cob for only about ten minutes and its beautifully tender. Admittedly I buy the very young corn but still, I can’t imagine why you would cook even mature corn for 2 hours! We eat ours with salt, butter and lemon juice.

      The raspados sound fantastic for a hot summer’s day. We have nothing like that here. 😦

Hey there, Cupcake! How are ya?

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