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Sunday, August 07, 2016

V Is For Vanilla Ice Cream


About eleventy hundred years ago when I was a child, the Mr. Softee ice cream truck used to come down our street during the summer. It wasn't often that we could stop him and get a soft-serve cone ourselves, but a kid down the street always did. And he always got the biggest cone on the menu, the double one. And he always got the same thing, a double header of Vanilla Ice Cream. My sister Susan, his best friend, made fun of him for it every single time. As a matter of fact, whenever we went to get ice cream at Home Dairy or any other ice cream place, Curt always ordered the same thing, a double or triple dip of Vanilla. Even if the ice cream parlor had a vast array of flavours: raspberry ripple, mint chocolate chip, peach cobbler, peanut butter and jelly, daquiri ice, triple fudge brownie, orange pineapple, and rainbow sherbet, it didn't matter. Curt would wait patiently and with an absolutely serious face (he looked stunningly like Charlie Brown) he'd give his standard order, "I'll have a triple dip of Vanilla, please." Susan would exhale dramatically and ungraciously, roll her eyes, and sometimes even let loose a "Cu-urt!" out of sheer exasperation.

To Curt's credit he responded pretty much the way he responded to all of her outbursts and fits of temper; he merely looked at her, maybe blinked once or twice, and spoke calmly. "Suze," he would say, "I like Vanilla." This usually did nothing but provoke her into more pique. All the while, Curt placidly licked his ice cream and stayed loyally by her side.

My grandparents were also major Vanilla Ice Cream loyalists. I don't think there was another flavour in their house, ever. During strawberry season, berries atop Vanilla Ice Cream was the only dessert offered (besides the ever-present homemade molasses or sour cream cookies) at their house, and it was usually eaten on the front porch. When it wasn't berry season, the Vanilla Ice Cream accompanied one of Grandma's pies (usually elderberry, rhubarb, or apple) or the aforementioned cookies. I think if Grandma had ever offered me chocolate ice cream at her house on East Liberty Street, I'd probably have fainted, assuming she'd left the church or lost her faculties. Even now, I cannot even imagine something so patently ridiculous. Chocolate ice cream at Grandma's? Impossible.

Rick is also a pretty solid Vanilla Ice Cream guy. Once, when we stopped at our favourite soft serve stand, he shocked me by ordering a twist cone. "Are you surprised?" he asked me. "I thought I'd switch things up for a change." As I started in on my own small twist, I watched him. "Well?" I asked after a few moments. "How is it?" He looked at me, his face disappointed. "I don't know why you like this so much. It all blends together and just tastes like chocolate.  You can't taste any Vanilla. I'm going back to Vanilla." And he has, although he is relatively adventurous at our favourite hard ice cream scoop shop.

Vanilla Ice Cream...bores me. I do appreciate (and insist upon) a Really Good Premium Vanilla Ice Cream, but I need a little something to jazz it up. Like chocolate syrup. Or fresh berries. Or...Something. (Not sprinkles; never sprinkles. Ugh.) But in an ice cream shop faced with a staggering array of fantastic flavours like mango sorbet, lemon black raspberry, and toasted pistachio, I'm not defaulting to Vanilla. (Even superb Vanilla.) I definitely appreciate the role of Vanilla Ice Cream in a hot fudge sundae. You don't want any other flavour in there, really. But I don't want Vanilla Ice Cream mucking about in my pie or birthday cake. (And that goes for all ice cream and all cakes, by the way.)

Are people either Chocolate Ice Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream people? I know I'm a Chocolate Ice Cream Person. If I were stuck with only one kind of ice cream for the rest of my life, and it had to be either chocolate or Vanilla, I'd pick chocolate. No question.

Tell us your Vanilla Ice Cream memories. And which Kind Of Person--Chocolate or Vanilla--are you?

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30 comments:

  1. Vanilla for me, though I like chocolate ice cream just fine. French vanilla is sometimes even better than regular vanilla. I like cherry ice cream a lot, though it has to be cherry ice cream, not cherry vanilla. Black cherry ice cream is delicious with chocolate sauce, though I'm not so sure about hot fudge. For soft serve, I'd go vanilla every time. I'm with Rick on the mixed, you can't really taste the vanilla.

    Ted and Maya think vanilla has its place (on pie or with berries), but otherwise is a waste of ice cream. Their favorite is Baskin Robbins World Class Chocolate. Vanilla with fresh strawberries is good, but vanilla with fresh raspberries is the best.

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    1. J@jj--I so rarely get wonderful fresh raspberries that I eat them with absolutely nothing. I like to enjoy them solo. They are such a treasure all by themselves.

      My father used to love Cherry Vanilla ice cream (Called White House ice cream here at his beloved Home Dairy). I am not a big cherry person, so aside from a brief flirtation with Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia flavour (also made by Homemade Brand under a more sedate moniker), I leave it alone.

      Every now and then I try a small vanilla soft serve, but feel disappointed. I am happy to leave even more for you, Rick, and somewhere, Curt.

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    2. Cherry Garcia will do in a pinch, but I'd rather have smooth ice cream without chunks in it. Fresh plain raspberries are ethereal indeed, and the best way to have them. But if I'm in the mood for ice cream, and we have some good vanilla (Ben and Jerry's or Haagan Daz), then raspberries are wonderful there.

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  2. Oh, and my goodness do I adore sorbet. Ted and Maya think I'm crazy if we go out to dinner and I order sorbet for dessert, when there is so obviously molten chocolate cake on the menu. Whatever. At least I don't have to share it.

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    1. J@jj--Oh, J., if only you could get Mitchell's mango sorbet! It is alarmingly, scary-good. I have to hold onto the edge of the table when I eat the first bite. THAT is how good it is.

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    2. Sadly, I don't care for mango anything, even mangoes. But I do adore other flavors...lemon, blood orange, raspberry. Strawberry maybe, but I prefer them to be a little less sweet than that.

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    3. J@jj--Oh, my. No mango? I cannot bear that, almost. But there it is. I agree, however, that a really good lemon sorbet is heavenly.

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    4. Don't take it too hard. Think of it like Maya and Ted do, which is to say, "more for me"

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  3. I only eat vanilla if it is accompanied by something else, NEVER plain. It must have something in it or on it (pie and cake included) for me to ever choose a vanilla-based dessert.

    Rocky Road is actually my favorite flavor of all time, I love the mix of textures and I actually don't really like plain ice cream of any flavor.

    My grandparents used to take us to the Carvel shop (back when they used to have stand alone shops a la Ben and Jerry's) and I would always choose the bubble gum ice cream because even when I was done with it, I would still have a pretty good chunk of gum to chew. Young Gina, always thinking ahead!

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    1. Gina--UNRELATED: Just read an article that says Orange County is going blue for like the First Time Ever. Good Job!

      Okay. As far as a Vanilla-based dessert in general, I am a creme brulee girl from way back. That is my all time favourite dessert, bar none. So, it's not a Vanilla Thing for me, per se.

      Rocky Road FTW up til about three years ago, and then I stopped liking really chunky ice creams. I think Ben & Jerry's ruined me for that. Theirs is so ultra-chunky that I can't find any actual ice cream in it anymore. I get annoyed if I have to CHEW ice cream so much, you know?

      Here in the Midwest--NEO, at least--we don't have Carvel. In my area, our ice cream shops are independent, except for Baskin Robbins and Dairy Queen, which didn't come into our area until I was about 12 or so. And we have so many good independent shops that most people don't have to go to a BR for ice cream.

      You were a smart girl even then! I always fell for the prettiest ice cream and hoped it would taste as good as it looked. Luckily, I was not picky, and usually just grateful for ice cream, so it usually worked out. And I was always a sucker for sherbets, which came in the prettiest colors of all.

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    2. Ha! Well, people tend to forget that almost all of Southern California has a very large, nay, ginormous immigrant population, and even more first or second generation Americans. Aside from a few populations, such as the Vietnamese, who are often small business owners that tend to skew Republican, they are by and large Democrats.

      I can't tell you how many bigoted white people are leaving Southern California because it is too Democratic and not "white enough" for them. My husband just had a friend of his leave to Washington state for exactly this reason. Another friend of his (law enforcement, so many tend to be conservative) is retiring and moving to Arizona because it's a Republican state. Sorry, but good riddance, I say! My daughter's class is a wonderful rainbow of children and I wouldn't have it any other way!

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    3. Gina--Your husband's friend may be alarmed; AZ is trending blue these days.

      I have refrained from writing about The Politics in a post here. It is too calisthenic for me to think of for too long at a stretch. I have never been so deeply and profoundly disappointed in my country, ever.

      It's like watching "There Will Be Blood" without the breathtakingly wonderful performance of Daniel Day-Lewis.

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  4. Walking down the memory lane of ice cream... (not always vanilla)

    When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember the Good Humor ice-cream truck coming around in the summer. I generally spent my weekly allowance money on a fudgesicle or a dreamsicle. There was rarely ice cream around the house unless it was the holidays.

    In elementary school, I loved those little dixie cups. They only had one flavor, and, yes, it was vanilla. When there’s only one choice, vanilla is it, right? Neutral, goes with everything, haha. I didn’t really mind because it was that or nothing. I think I just liked the little cup and the cute wooden spoon we ate it with.

    I did *not* like having cake and ice cream together, so I was the weird kid at birthday parties. I generally preferred ice cream to cake anyway, especially if it was the exotic “cosmopolitan” (I think that’s what it was called) which was a scoop of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

    Went to my first Baskin-Robbins when I was a teenager. It was nearly impossible to decide what to order, although I tended towards the berry flavors.

    Nowadays... if it’s only chocolate or vanilla, I would probably pass. Partly because neither of them really inspires me, and partly because I can no longer eat ice cream without having serious digestive problems a few hours later. So... if I do indulge, it’s always Häagen Dazs dulce de leche. I try not to buy it very often, but Mr. O. loves it, so I occasionally dip a spoon into it.

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    1. Ortizzle--We didn't have a Good Humor truck and had never seen one until we went on a vacation. We visited an army buddy of my dad's in Baltimore. One came down his street and we were treated to whatever we wanted. Exciting! Of course I got the chocolate eclair bar which, back then, had a slab of chocolate in the middle. What richness.

      My sister still buys the little dixie ice cream cups for any family gatherings at her house. All the grownup cousins have such fond memories like yours of them from years and years ago. She says she has the devil of a time finding the ones that come with the wooden spoons. (Ugh. Cannot STAND the sensation or taste of eating off that thing.)

      You and I are the same with ice cream and cake, but I would opt for the cake only. The triple ice cream is called Neapolitan, and I still love it today. It's especially pretty when sliced into a striped section of that distinctive pink, white, and brown.

      I'm terribly sorry about ice cream being a Nemesis to you now. Lactose problems, huh? I cannot eat Dairy Queen soft serve, which is sad because of their Blizzard offerings, which I love. DQ pumps too much air into their ice cream and I am in misery for hours afterward, too.

      Mr. O. probably grabs ice cream cones on his way home from places so as not to tempt you. (I would.)

      I'm not a caramel fan, but Haagen Dazs makes my favourite coffee ice cream. So good!

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    2. Trying to avoid all things political I happened to watch a rerun of "Everybody Loves Raymond" this week. Ray's mother admitted that when her son Robbie was a child she told him the ice cream truck played music only when they had sold out of ice cream.

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    3. NCmountainwoman--What a great gag. Wish I had thought of that dodge years ago. (It sounds so very like me.)

      I'm going to share that with my nieces so that they can bank it and use it On Those Days.

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  5. Replies
    1. Silliyak--Oh! Good one. I haven't had one of those in ages!

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    2. Just yesterday bought some Vanilla to go with apple crumble

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  6. Let's preface this by saying that ice cream is the PERFECT FOOD. If you just think about broccoli for a second at the beginning, you have all the food groups covered...

    I have a VERY sensitive nose, so I am a flavor purist as far as many foods are concerned. I'm not very fond of chocolate anything. I especially don't like chocolate with any kind of fruit. My favorite flavors are vanilla and burnt sugar/caramel, so I absolutely LOVE creme brulee. For ice cream, it must either be really good vanilla (like Haagen Dazs or home-made), or vanilla frozen custard soft-serve. No toppings, no cake, no pie, no anything. It's not that I haven't had other flavors here and there, and found them ok (Haagen Dazs coffee or butter pecan are quite good), but when I want a soul-satisfying ice cream, it's going to be plain high-quality vanilla, and lots of it.

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    1. LaFF--Another vote for creme brulee! Yay. I am no fan of caramel AT ALL, but a huge fan of toasted marshmallows, so that must be why I love creme brulee.

      Isn't poor quality Vanilla Ice Cream such a profound disappointment? Just terrible stuff, that. When it is done well and correctly, it can be so lovely. I am often suspicious of so-called French Vanilla, that yellowy stuff. Not sure of what makes it "French".

      And true frozen custard is a joy. The DQ is most decidedly Not That. Not That at all.

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    2. Your question made me go look, and French Vanila includes eggs, so it's more yellow, and has a custard flavor that regular vanilla does not have. I used to love it at Baskin Robbins, but they discontinued it. Sigh.

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  7. Who sells ice cream in Arizona? Why, the Good Yuma Man, Of course!

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    1. Nancy--Is there a universal symbol for a Rimshot? LOL.

      I hope you come back and give us a good Vanilla Ice Cream memory or your own ice cream flavour preference. And I hope you're well up there in PA.

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  8. I love chocolate and vanilla separate but equally. The vanilla must be high-quality vanilla-with-the-bean and not French vanilla. I'd rather have none than a poor quality ice cream. We rarely had store-bought ice cream when I was a child. We made our own with a (now old-fashioned) hand crank churn. And I don't remember Mom ever making vanilla. Perhaps that's why I love it so much now.

    My husband is a Ben and Jerry's lover of the chock-full-of-stuff varieties. I told him he might as well eat a candy bar because he gets so little ice cream.

    I must admit I never understood why vanilla was pooh-poohed so much. As if one has no taste or sophistication if choosing vanilla. But in truth I have been known to call a bland politician or a poorly run political campaign vanilla. Shame on me for contributing to the degrading of vanilla.

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    1. NCmountainwoman--You bring up such an excellent and thought-provoking point (and now I have to award you 300 points on the Official Leaderboard)!

      Why *is* it that Vanilla is the flavour that is so pooh-poohed? I suppose it is because it is the one to which other flavours are so often added. Ripple flavours are merely a ribbon of stuff added to Vanilla. Chunky things are added into most Vanilla Ice Creams to create lots of other flavours. So, without all the Jazz and Pizzazz, what's left is Just Vanilla.

      Vanilla is a very rich flavour on its own. Without it, baked goods have no taste, really. I remember being on our Alaskan cruise and how dazzled I was by the dessert table. It was spectacular in every way: cakes, puddings, souffles, meringues, tarts--you name it, and it was there and in every colour and variety. I could not wait to try several, and I could because they were all in very small versions. But each one was almost tasteless. I was so disappointed. I could not figure out the missing ingredient at first, but then...VANILLA! There was not a single bit of Vanilla used in any one of them, and most of them needed it badly.

      While I still prefer chocolate ice cream to Vanilla, I do agree that Vanilla is a much-maligned flavour. And, like you, if it's bad Vanilla Ice Cream, I'll go without.

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    2. Wow! I got points? Thanks

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  9. If I must eat plain ice cream, then it really needs to be chocolate. I confess that I'm a Ben & Jerry's Phish Food Phanatic (sorry - had to go there). But I could do without the little hard chocolate fish pieces in there, so I've started making a Poor Bug's version at home (Weight Watcher's fudge bar melted a bit & scraped off the stick, with marshmallow & caramel sauce dumped on top). Another Ben & Jerry's flavor that I LOVE is their Red Velvet cake. Oh man - that is some gooey goodness! But, although it's not chunky, it does have bits of cake in it so you probably wouldn't enjoy it.

    I have a friend who only ever eats vanilla ice cream. When we razz him about it he says, "What!? Vanilla's a flavor too!"

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    1. Bug--I don't mind some chunkiness, but I feel like B & J's has gotten ridiculous. Not much ice cream in there anymore. I used to love their ice cream, but now it's just as NCmountainwoman said, like eating a candy bar. I will check out the RV cake and see if it is something I might like.

      I love, love, love marshmallow ANYTHING. I can eat marshmallow fluff right out of the jar--and have--but feel terrible about doing so. A really good chocolate marshmallow ice cream would be my Dream Flavour. Your concoction makes me laugh, having a WW fudgesicle as its base and then topped with so much indulgence. But I suppose you are saving considerably on calories after all. But regular fudgesicles are pretty low-cal, aren't they?

      I love what your friend says. It is a Simple Truth, and those are undeniable, despite what Some Certain Nominees On The Other Side may contend.

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    2. The WW bar is really (unexpectedly) rich & creamy - very tasty!

      I had gotten into a VERY bad habit of buying the big jars of marshmallow cream & eating half the jar in one sitting. I could actually feel "the diabetus" breathing down my neck. So I stopped (for now anyway).

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