July 9, 2010

Ice cream inspires memories…

Posted in Between Us column at 11:26 pm by dinaheng

I love ice cream… the texture, the taste, the flavors, and the memories that go with it.

My first favorite flavor was strawberry because that’s what my dad liked. On hot summer nights, he’d take us to Dairy Queen, and while my sisters liked the chocolate sundaes, I loved strawberry. Yes, you can always tell who’s the oddball in the family.

In case you haven’t heard, July is National Ice Cream Month. About 1.54 billion gallons of ice cream were produced in 2008, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. The top five flavors sold (in order of popularity) were vanilla, chocolate, cookie ’n’ cream, strawberry and chocolate chip mint.

Vanilla, another of my favorites, is usually what I pick when I’m in the mood for soft serve, rather than hard ice cream. It’s also a requirement on top of apple pie or apple crisp, though I’ll tolerate a dollop of coconut ice cream if vanilla isn’t in the fridge.

The taste for coconut comes from my mother, who loves coconut anything. With a dad who  likes strawberry and a mom who likes coconut, you’d think I’d love those nut-covered strawberry sundaes on a stick, but no… when it comes to novelty ice creams, give me a Blue Bell Mini Country Cone, which is only available in the south.

The chocolate coating over the vanilla ice cream melts in your mouth, unlike the nearly tasteless Drumsticks that Nestle’s makes. The Blue Bell wafer cones are yummilicious, coated on the inside with dribbled chocolate. (You know you’re an ice cream lover when things like that make poetic words come out of your mouth.)

The first ice cream cone was made by Italo Marchiony, who immigrated from Italy to New York in the late 1800s, and emerged in 1896. Marchiony was given a patent for his tasty treat in December 1903, but a similar concoction debuted at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair when Ernest A. Hamwi, a Syrian vendor made crisp, waffle-like pastries in a booth next to an ice cream vendor. When the ice cream vendor ran out of dishes, Hamwi rolled one of his waffles into the shape of a cone, and the rest is history.

A great alternative to hard ice cream is sorbet or gelato. The best gelato I ever had was from a little shop in Rome. The peach flavor was so intense I think the fruit had just been picked from a tree.

The worst ice cream I’ve ever had was made in China. No offense, but desserts should be sweet. The Chinese could learn from the Japanese, who make wonderful mochi ice cream (the ice cream comes inside a pastry of pounded sticky rice).

Ice creams come in so many different flavors. When some friends took me to a Persian ice cream store, I had to try the rose ice cream. Its floral essence was really refreshing. My favorite “unusual” flavor, though, is lavender, which is found most often in health food markets. Talk about eating your way to Nirvana.

Whether it’s a family night out, a trip abroad, or dessert with friends, ice cream is usually on the tip of my tongue somewhere.

In my freezer this week are cartons of Breyers’ Mint Chocolate Chip, Haagen-Dazs’ Coconut Pineapple, Ben & Jerry’s Berried Treasure and Strawberry Kiwi Swirl sorbets, Starbucks Coffee’s Vanilla Bean Frappuccino and Java Chip Frappuccino. Just writing about it makes me… hmm…

I think it’s time to get out the ice cream scoop.

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