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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7


I started to notice the ice cream vans doing their rounds lately and the odd ninety nine being licked at the seaside so summer is here. The ice cream story is a long and interesting one with Italy claiming its origin but strong cases emerge from elsewhere in Europe, the Middle East even India and China so it’s not so clear-cut. At the end of the day it’s about a cooling sugary hit in the heat of the sun and it is a multibillion dollar industry from the cheapest supermarket water ice lolly to the richest creamiest concoction in a plush restaurant.

I recall my favourite flavour as a child as being called a lemon lime with a chocolate coating and every home freezer too had a block of HB ice cream also to slice up for wafers. This budget family friendly ice cream was snow white and it would melt quickly if the cardboard carton was left out too long on the kitchen table. This was meant to be vanilla flavoured but it was only when I first tasted a vanilla ice cream in France that I learned what a true vanilla ice cream was.

Vanilla would be still my favourite in fact and when I first learned how to make it as a young chef using only egg yolks, double fat cream, sugar and real vanilla pods it was a revelation. It is called iced cream after all and not iced milk. The yolks will give it a yellow tint and the tiny black speckles from the vanilla should pepper it throughout. The high fat content gives it the unctuousness that makes its texture so delicious.

You can buy half decent versions of it in the frozen dessert aisles along with of course a never ending variety of other flavours these days.

I am always amazed how the food companies keep coming up with the most unusual flavours each year for ice cream both ridiculous and sublime. You can just about mix any sweet or savoury flavour into a basic mix now and you might just get away with it. The Americans have really run riot on this front but the high end restaurants have been at it too with their experimental combinations. Anyone for bacon and egg ice cream? Yes it does exist.

Every type of herb, spice, vegetable, fruit, cheese and alcohol even curry is ending up as an ice cream. A modern trend is turning your favourite sweet or confectionary into one. I prefer my Twix or Mars bars just as they are. In fairness brown bread ice cream was actually being made as far back as the eighteenth century so the English were way ahead of their time on that one.

We have to thank the Americans for popularizing ice cream parlours and giving us the ice cream sundae back in the nineteenth century in a Michigan store. It was a chance customer request to pour chocolate sauce over ice cream and it was only served on Sundays. When asked for mid week they had to give it a name hence the Sundae. It then morphed into the English Knickerbocker glory on this side called after the turn of the century hotel of the same name in New York at the time.

Ice cream is naturally on the big baddie list of officially termed junk foods even if it has low calorie and dairy free versions too. A single scoop of standard vanilla will have about one and fifty calories with protein, fat and carb contents. Like everything in life if you do it to excess it has a negative result and people simple eat whole tubs of the stuff and we have a sedentary lifestyle hence our obesity epidemic. So, ice cream is an easy target but it should be a luxury, a treat and not for consuming in bulk quantities. Two half kilo tubs of vanilla last a year in my freezer. A few cones at the sea in summer, the odd sorbet on a restaurant dessert and that is my lot. We simply need to grow up about our food choices.

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