Front Porch Pops: Just Lick 'Em
So . . . I'm getting married soon. I've picked some of my favorite businesses to help out with the catering—Taco Maria's Carlos Salgado and Roland Rubalcava to do aguachile and tortas ahogadas, respectively; a comadre to do asado de boda, the mole from my ancestral town of Jerez that's the best dish on Earth; the Michelada VW bus by those crazy Guelaguetza kids in LA; and many more. (And yes, I am paying. Oh, how much I'm paying. . . .) But I predict that one of the more surprisingly popular foods served will be the paletas by Front Porch Pops.
I say "surprisingly" not as a diss against Erin Whitcomb, the kind, supremely talented owner of what started as a push cart and is now a storefront snuggled up against Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain in Old Towne Orange. But, see, there's going to be hundreds of my relatives at our outdoor wedding, and I'm sure they're going to think, "¡Ay, ese pocho Guti!" when they see a gabacha offering up paletas. What do white folks know about paletas, after all?
But then they'll take a lick of one in the oppressive heat and shut up. Though selling for a mainstream audience, Whitcomb masters Mexican flavors like a paletero jingling his bells while marching down Standard Street. Jamaica is properly tart; a mango-and-chile version tastes akin to a fruit vendor's treasures. I asked her to do a nuez ("nuts" in Spanish, but always meaning walnut flavor in Mexican Spanish—go figure) for our boda, and it takes me back to summers at La Palma Park, watching on the sidelines as my cousins went on to sandlot glories.
And then my cousins and tíos will be blown away by Front Porch Pops' original flavors. Whitcomb makes an orange creamsicle that sings of Orange Bang! I was skeptical of her piña colada take, but she nails the balance of tart and sweet in the ideal version of the cocktail. And the chocolate pop finds sea salt sprinkled on it—away with thee, all pretenders! You can't go to my wedding, alas, but do try Front Porch Pops at the many festivals Whitcomb staffs or—better yet—at her brick-and-motor. Because as this summer continues its stuffy reign, even a purist Mexican will just shut up and lick.
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