One of my favorite food books that I've read lately is Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, a beautifully written memoir written by Sara Roahen. The book is so well-crafted that it alternatively inspires me to try to be a better writer or to give up completely. In her book, Roahen shares how the culinary scene of the Big Easy was so important to her integration into the community after moving to her first Southern city from her native Wisconsin. She describes her discoveries of the wonders of the city's cuisine through specific food types like po' boys, gumbo, crawfish, turducken and Sazeracs.
The chapter on New Orleans snowballs concentrates on Hansen's Sno-Bliz, an institution in the city since 1939. Founder Ernest Hansen actually invented the Sno-Bliz machine out of wood in 1933 to shave fluffy ice to make treats for his son. Very different from your ordinary icy snow cone, a true snowball shaved-ice treat is softer on the tongue and more able to accept the unique cream and cane sugar-based syrups.
Since the loss of Fleur De Lis Flavors back in January, there has been a notable hole in Nashville's frozen treat market. Well, fear not Bitesters, because a new food truck called Retro Sno has hit the road in a converted portable oil-change truck to fill the void.
The four friends who own the truck purchased an authentic shaved ice machine from New Orleans and also source their natural cane syrups from the original snowball mecca. Sweet as hummingbird nectar, their flavors don't contain any high-fructose corn syrup and are as old-school as those at Hansen's.
Flavor combinations are encouraged, and they'll be happy to recommend their favorite recipes like Vanilla Toasted Coconut or Mango Pineapple. They've calculated that you could order over a thousand different Snoballs from their menu of ingredients without repeating.