In today’s stream of consciousness through memory lane, let me talk about ice cream.
Argentina has the best ice cream. Believe me. It does. It’s probably because of the flavor of the milk, because even Argentinian style ice cream in the US does not compare.
The best flavor of Argentinian ice cream is, of course, dulce de leche. And more specifically, dulce de leche granizado – which is dulce de leche mixed with shredded chocolate. As a child, whenever we went to the ice cream parlor, I would order that and either strawberry or pineapple sorbet.
That’s another thing. Why can’t American sorbet taste as good as Argentina’s helados de agua? Water is water, right? And even when it varies, it would vary within Argentina as well. Perhaps I should finally look and compare recipes. Or perhaps I should accept that all food from childhood tastes better (except for Argentine cookies, American cookies are far superior. Same with cakes.)
Growing up, ice cream was a very special treat. It was expensive! Very expensive. And you could only get it at ice cream parlors. They didn’t sell tubs of ice cream at the supermarket, which was just as well, as our freezers back then weren’t cold enough to keep it frozen. I think my parents got a modern refrigerators a couple of years before we moved to the US, which my aunt Gladys then took, but the market for supermarket ice cream had not yet developed.
My parents did make their own ice cream in a small machine. But the results, for whatever reason, weren’t very good. I’m guessing the recipe might have been at fault. I do remember that it called for unflavored gelatin. Maybe it was because of the lack of a really cold freezer.
So real ice cream was something we got when we got our report cards – as a reward for doing well, but we always did well enough, so it became just the time when we got ice cream. Ironically, this meant that we got ice cream only during the cooler months, when school was in session.
In summer, we had to content ourselves with Frigor brand ice cream novelties. In reality, this mostly meant popsicles – which you will not be surprised to learn were much tastier in America. They came in all sort of shapes, and they varied by season, but we usually were relegated to the cheapest one. On super special occasions we might get or be able to afford an ice cream bar – un helado de crema -, but that was very rare. Indeed, even the popsicles would have been rare if it wasn’t for the fact that we – my brother and I – went to day camp during the summer, and for dessert after lunch we got half (una patita) of a two-stick popsicle like the ones in the picture to the left.
Once in a blue moon, my dad might buy a kilo of ice cream for the whole family. We then got to specify which flavors we wanted, and we’d end up with a scoop of a dozen different one – which would then all meld into one flavor.
As you can imagine, when we came to America and found how (relatively) cheap and abundant ice cream was at supermarkets, we were in high heaven. So much so that for quite a while we didn’t miss dulce de leche ice cream (which, btw, doesn’t taste anything like the Haagen Daaz version).
I do now. And very much so. It’s possible to make it at home, but it’s soooo expensive (as it requires dulce de leche imported from Argentina). My kids are grown up, but still at home, so maybe I should make it for them as a treat when they get their report cards.