Latino culture

A to Z Challenge: H is for Helados

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Photo by Mark Cruz for


Welcome back to this week’s A to Z Challenge. I’m listing words, in Spanish or Spanglish, alphabetically. Today’s letter is H.

H is for Helados which means Ice Cream.

This is one of the most misused words in my Spanish speaking vocabulary.

For all of my childhood and teen years, I used the word “nieve” for Ice Cream although I was corrected a few times by the ice cream man.

“Nieve is snow, helado is ice cream.”

ice cream truck, photo by Paul Trienekens for

Most of the time I asked for ice cream in English to avoid any embarrassment.

On a trip to Mexico, as a young adult, I slipped and asked the waiter at a restaurant for nieve.

The response:

“It doesn’t snow here.”

My experience with Mexico wasn’t as great as I thought it’d be. I thought a return to the motherland would bring me good experiences.

For the most part, the sites did bring me that connection, but the people who worked in the hotels, service, and tours let me know that I wasn’t really Mexican. Not that they said that out loud. It was an attitude.

For someone of Mexican heritage born in the U.S, I was often called pocha.

The word wasn’t a compliment but an indicator that I spoke limited or ‘lazy’ Spanish. I’ll save a story about the use of the word for the letter P.

Until then, enjoy an helado today because every day is an ice cream day. 🙂