By Sandra E. García
Dollars for beans, sweet and warm
Got a dollar?
Then step right up, as just 4 quarters or a single dollar bill will buy you some of the sweetest delight you’re ever to find in a steaming Styrofoam cup, particularly as the cold of winter settles in and you’ve exhausted your hot chocolate urges.
Known as “habichuelas con dulce,” or, literally, “sweet beans,” the portable liquid delicacy is precisely that: sweet.
Reminiscent of hot cocoa but sweeter, habichuelas con dulce is a creamy, silky, sweet broth flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, and filled with dense morsels of beans and raisins. It is a classic, traditional Dominican drink/dessert/snack that can be served cold, but is more frequently doled out hot and quick, particularly along St. Nicholas Avenue near and around West 182nd Street, where street vendors have created a brisk business from shopping carts outfitted with huge Thermoses and neat rows of plastic cups and spoons.
“I’ve bought habichuelas con dulce in other places and it just doesn’t taste as good!” exclaims Ybelkis Sanchez, who traveled from New Jersey on a recent wintry afternoon to enjoy a cup then, and a two-dollar container to enjoy later.