It’s summer, and it’s time to celebrate one of my favorite things: ice cream.
I’ve stored four main memory bits that relate to ice cream. Each a different flavor, two from childhood, two from my travels.I’ve always loved ice cream – there isn’t a flavor I’d refuse, though I’m a bit leery of the modern mixtures where they throw in every ingredient at hand.
Well, maybe I’d refuse something like chocolate chip cookie dough, or blueberry cobbler. Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing with those two. I tend to stick to the pristine, single flavor ice creams. My personal favorite is coffee, though none of my main memories pertain to that flavor. Coffee is just the flavor I choose whenever I’m given the choice. I do know that as a kid I’d choose coffee because I could have it as an ice cream even though I couldn’t have it as a beverage. Do you think my Mom ever caught on? Probably.
You might not expect this, but the best chocolate ice cream I’ve ever eaten was bought for me at the Brooklyn V.A. Hospital. My father was at the hospital due to a war injury, and we children were allowed to see him only on Sundays. We could stay with Dad for only a short time, so after our visit we went down to the cafeteria, promising to stay there and behave until our Mom came to get us, which probably was just long enough for us to have our treat. One afternoon I chose a dish of chocolate ice cream – maybe they had no coffee flavor - and that was my order there from then on. They served the ice cream in a white paper cone in a metal holder, the same ones in which they served us a drink of water. The ice cream was almost as black as the cone was white. The chocolate flavor was as intense as a bitter-sweet chocolate bar. This wasn’t just one dish of that ice cream that I had – it was many over many Sundays, so the taste is imbedded in my memory. The hospital is now part of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. I wonder if they still have that wonderful ice cream.
The other of my childhood ice cream memories is of the pistachio ice cream at Howard Johnson’s. If I remember correctly, I might have had two ice creams in one day because Mom would, on some Sundays, take us to Howard Johnson’s on the way home from the hospital. I loved their fried clam plate, and I loved their pistachio. Distance does lend enchantment, but I’m still searching for clams and pistachio ice cream like theirs. Not even the few remaining Howard Johnson’s restaurants can match them. Again, they’re embedded in my memory, and pistachio is my second favorite.
Fast forward about forty-something years: we’re in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur department of France, mid-afternoon, and it’s time for something to eat to keep us from getting peckish. Down a winding side street we came upon an ice cream kiosk where a deft-handed girl created something I’d never seen: a flower of individual ice cream petals for a cone that was a thing of beauty and a cool delight to eat. The base petals were raspberry, the center of the flower was hazelnut, and the treat was so big we shared just one.
My final ice cream memory was made right on the waterfront in Portofino. I’ve written before about our wonderful gustatory tour of Italy, and I mentioned the decadent dessert of ice cream covered with berries and other fruit. Truly delicious in its own right, that dish of ice cream was just one of the gustatory highlights of that particular day of boating with the locals on the Mediterranean. Dah-ling, we felt like movie stars!
My husband and I have recently reverted to childhood: we’re now enjoying our ice cream in cones. The original idea was to cut down on our two- to three- scoop servings of ice cream to just one little scoop on a cone. But you know how it goes: I had to insure that there was good, cold ice cream all the way down in the cone – couldn’t have it drip all over – so the one scoop has become more like two. And yeah, I know about the calories in the cone. We all wear halos in our own way. We all have ice cream dreams.