It’s hard to know whether to eat a cholado or sip it, or to somehow try both at once. Better just to say that you submit to it, this red-orange tower of fruit, ice and condensed milk like a mashed-up sunrise.
At Prontito, in Elmhurst, Queens, a cholado begins with pulverized ice, chiming at the bottom of a cup. Passion fruit and blackberry syrups trickle down, and then a pileup of fruit summons every gradation of sweetness: fleshy chunks of guanabana (soursop), pineapple, papaya, mango, banana and strawberries; crisp, bracing apple and honeydew melon; a tatting of grated coconut.
All is drowned in lechera (condensed milk). The fruit half-melts, half-swims, and the lechera rests lazily on the tongue, like a custard that couldn’t be bothered to set. Passion fruit seeds snap. A maraschino cherry rests on top, alien red, stem askew, as if seconds from being sucked under.