My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best. ― Winston S. Churchill
Pablo veered off the already excruciatingly hot and long road to Guanacaste, assuring me that I would like what was waiting at the end of his detour. We pulled up to a small park with little else than a picnic table and an old food truck with the words “FAMOUS PUNTARENAS CHURCHILL,” and a guarantee in English and Spanish that if we didn’t like it, we’d get our money back.
We didn’t hesitate to test the theory, and ₡2,500 ($5) each later, we were being handed plastic cups full to the brim with Puntarenas’ finest. Pablo dug in, but I was still trying to define the thing (was it ice cream? A snow cone? a fruit cup?!).
The Puntarenas Churchill – Better than ice cream on a hot day?
At first glance, I wasn’t sure what to do with the cup. Armed with both a spoon and a straw I dug through the first layer of thick, sweetened condensed milk and gathered some of the fruit for my first bite. I’ve never understood Tico’s affection for the gooey canned milk that seems to top all beach-side treats, but tasting the plump grapes, apple slices, mango, pineapple, and strawberry coated in creamy sweetness washed all my doubts away. I readied myself to dig deeper into the mystery cup. The next bite revealed a mixture of shaved ice, powdered milk, and red cola-flavored syrup. Bite after bite convinced me that Ticos might have found a worthy runner-up to ice cream on a sunny day, and a shockingly refreshing one at that (if you can count a chilly sugar high as refreshing, that is).
A Puntarenas Staple
As fruit, milk, and ice combined to a delicious drinkable dessert, Pablo filled me in on the Punta Arena Churchill ’s rise to fame. Recalling childhood memories and even news announcements reaching his hometown hours away, he told me that
“If you go to Puntarenas and didn’t have a Churchill, you were never really there.”
We slurped up the last of our sugary treats, readied ourselves for the rest of the drive into the Guanacaste heat and bid farewell to the lonely truck – happy to have sampled one of the best traditions in town.