Today’s chilly weather is probably too good to pass up without doing a bit of writing. After all, it is very possibly what’s holding me back from diving head first into a pile of personal recount essays.
I wanted to demystify (for myself, I mean) the natural attractiveness of ice cream. After my six-week stint at Yellowstone National Park washing dishes and dishing out soft serve ice cream to the visitors at the Old Faithful Lodge in 2008, ice cream found a new place in my heart and mind. It was originally categorised as comfort food in warm, sizzling-hot sunny weather; but after Summer 2008 it became known as comfort food – all year round.
An old lady, our first customer for the day, had bought a cone of chocolate soft serve with sprinkles, and as I handed her her cone of ice cream in the cool early months of Summer, she had said: “It is always time for ice cream! Even in cold weather!”
Ice cream became my happy food – the food that makes someone smile again when the world is gloomy. Sometimes, I suspect the trick lies not in the ingestion of the icy dessert, but in the novelty of buying and owning it. At times, I would find myself helplessly buying a cup of ice cream, only to find my body pleading to stop the intake of the dessert minutes later because I have had my fill, or because I was unwell. Just like recently when I went to watch a movie with a cup of ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery – ten minutes into the movie I left the cup of ice cream on the empty seat next to mine and satisfied myself just knowing it was sitting there, next to me, watching the film with me.
I also realised that the texture of the dessert matters. There is an irreconcilable difference between soft serve ice cream (the one served at Macdonald’s) and scooped ice cream from a tub (like Haagen Daz or Andersen’s). The latter usually has a firmer consistency, and comes in a lot more cool flavours for the customer’s tastebuds. Soft serve usually melts too quickly, and most of the time you end up trying to lick up the dribbled mess and / or trying desperately to prevent the snow lava from hitting your fingers.
Depending on the ingredients, I have heard that better quality ice cream tends to melt at a slower rate. This definitely offers room for some good comfortable conversation between your companion(s). I am a strong believer in the idea that food are symbols of socialisation and they can bring people together – provided people partake in the act of eating together, of course. And good conversations are always a plus.
I also prefer ice cream in a cup than in a cone. I think when ice cream is served in a cone, it distracts whoever is biting into it from appreciating its natural flavour and texture. Ice cream, like coffee, should be consumed on its own, without the caramel crunchiness of cheap biscuit cones or sprinkles. I will make an exception for ice cream being served on hot waffles – that leaves you with a choice to either eat the dessert on its own, or let the waffles enhance the flavour of the dessert.
When I was a kid, I always licked my ice cream. My parents would come around and ask to “try my flavour”, and over time I learned to reject their advances by running away. Most of the time “trying my flavour” would constitute biting a humongous bite into the dessert, leaving a gaping hole in the ice cream, making me feel extremely painful and sad as a child. Now that I am older, I appreciate spooning ice cream into my mouth instead of licking or biting it. I can decide on the right amount of ice cream to put in my mouth on top of my tongue… and it also gives me the option of eating it at a faster or slower pace.
Well, am I crazy, to just love ice cream for the magnificent dessert it simply is on its own? Sometimes I feel all it takes to make a wrong day right is to dig into a few mouthfuls of ice cream from a tub in the freezer with a metal spoon, for the cool dessert to transport you into somewhere completely fantastical and heavenly.