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††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Aaron Bennett

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Jan. 27, '00

 

The Manna of an Icy God

 

††††††††††† I've been studying for way too long.My mind has turned to mush from physics equations, problem sets, and essays.I had to get out of the library.My mind wasn't going to absorb any more info.I had a craving and that's all that's on my sleep weary mind at the moment.As I trudge through the Jack Frost's icy breath, my boots collecting the snow, mud, and other flotsam that fills the sidewalk.I have an addiction, I'll admit it.Some may think it a wee bit odd to be going for ice cream in the middle of a blizzard, but that's just the way I am.A little weird I'll admit, I can't help it.Ok, most times I can, sometimes it just calls to me like heroin calls to its junkie slave.A gentle pleading that turns to a driving urge that almost overrides the sexual urge.A driving force that will not subside until that elusive high is attained.I open the door to Stucchi's and slosh inside.The warmth of the place feels refreshing after my brisk walk.I browse the selection, but go for the old standby.Butter Pecan.Two scoops in a cup.In the Summer time I usually go for a sugar cone, but that's when I can wander around.There's nothing like walking down the street in the summer, watching all the prefroshes, with the plucking guitar of Shakey Jake providing the background music like some bad '70's Blacksploitation movie.I sit in Stucchi's watching the T.V. and eating my ice cream.The warmth of the place seeps into my body as the ice cream cools it going down.The two counter reacting forces send a tingle down my spine.†††††††

 

††††††††††† What is it about ice cream that makes it so good?It transcends its mere cream, sugar, and flavor ingredients.By some magic those simple things are transformed into one of the greatest desserts of all time.I wonder what the person who first put a cream churn in a bath of ice and salt to form this delectable treat.It has the power to turn ordinary pie into a' la mode.One of ice cream's greatest attributes, is its diversity.It can change greatly to meet the desires of the one who wishes to partake of it.From the classic vanilla, to the plethora of weird new flavors appearing daily on the market.It can be added to many dessert to "kick it up a notch", somewhat like the chef Emeril Lagasse does with Cajun spice.It can stand alone as a dessert if it wishes.A simple, timeless classic.

 

††††††††††† As I enjoy my cool treat, I realize that ice cream transcends mere sustenance.It becomes a sensory experience.The way the frozen treat dissolves on your tongue, sending icy tendrils shooting to your brain. The creamy mixture forms to your tongue like cold sand.The flavors dissolve and fight for supremacy on my overstimulated tongue.The way the flavors of the not quite homogenous concoctions mix in your mouth as the heat from your body provide the necessary fuel to turn it into a flood of flavor stimulates like nothing else.The melting of the frozen cream leaves behind the chunks of nuts like the gold dust left in the pan after washing away the useless debris.The mix of textures from the pecans and smooth ice cream provide an interesting contrast.I get a hint of buttery maple syrup underneath the cream taste and slightly bitter taste of the pecans.The complexities of the flavor are part of the whole experience that enables me to savor each spoonful.

 

††††††††††† Like any human, I have my likes and dislikes.There are some flavors I find myself preferring over others.Some brands stand out, if even for only one flavor.Some candies just lend themselves to being mixed in to make new flavors.Some toppings can turn ordinary vanilla into a true treat.According to the International Ice Cream Assoc., people prefer Vanilla by 29%[1].Then follow chocolate, strawberry, and Neapolitan in the single digits.New flavors come and go.But I guess thereís just something about the old classics.Seven of the top ten flavors have chocolate in them[2].The combination of the two stimulating treats is obviously a popular one.There seems to be a flavor to fit any taste.There is even ice milk or frozen yogurt for diet conscious people.A kind of ice ďcreamĒ made from soy-milk for those lactose intolerant souls.There is soft serve and hard ice cream.There exists today a large variety of push-ups, popsicles, and the like.Even sorbet and granita have their proponents.This wide variety is one of the big reasons why the treat as a whole is so popular.††††††

 

††††††††††† One of the classic presentations of this tasty treat is in the cone.Whether cake, sugar, or waffle: it is still a great invention.It started at the in mid 1896 in New York City.[3]An ice cream vendor was out of containers.He asked for help from the neighboring waffle-maker.It was brought to the world at the St. Louis Worldís Fair in 1904.The rest, as they say, is history.A treat that is completely edible.The container itself lends to the overall flavor and texture.People have differing views on the way this type of ice cream dessert should be eaten.It even provokes heated arguments in the sweltering inferno of the summer months when the treat becomes a way to cool oneself and gain nourishment at the same time.Some think that one should lick in a continuous swirl to avoid dripage of any errant drips.Others just dive in, figuring beforehand that it with be a messy experience, but one well worth it in the end.Some bite, some lick, some suck.Others prefer to have the taste of the cone but place the whole concoction in a cup and spoon it out like a sundae breaking up the cone to get a little piece in each bite.However they choose to eat it, it is a timeless summer classic.

 

Ice cream is a piece of Americana as fused to the American psyche as baseball and apple pie.Perhaps memories of the simpler time of childhood helps ice cream to invoke those pleasurable feelings.It reminds many people of sitting on a bench eating ice cream with their hands getting greedily sticky under the hot summer sun.Ice cream after a baseball, softball, or soccer game.A youth coach knows the way to quickest way to pick up a losing teams morale, or reward a winning oneís.At the dinner table, it was always a treat.What mother ever said ďEat all your ice cream or thereíll be no Brussel sprouts for you.ĒNone, because itís something people naturally like.It must be preprogrammed somewhere in very early childhood.I was eating lunch outside this last summer.I was sitting with my painting crew on the lawn outside the school we were in the process of beautifying for the young minds of the Detroit Public Schools.We hear an ice cream truck before it even rounds the corner.Everyone is up, with wallets out.It was kinda funny watching middle-aged guys chase after an ice cream truck.Those fond memories must run pretty deep.Ice cream is part of that kid in all of us.

 

††††††††††† Is it just coincidence that women tend to curl up with a bowl of ice cream, or even the whole carton, after a painful breakup?I know itís a gross generalization, but itís true in so many cases it has become notable.Is it because that icy shiver that course through the brain is reminiscent of the feeling you get when looking into your lovers eyes, or exchange a passionate kiss.Sarah McLachlan thought strongly enough about it to write the song ďIce CreamĒ about it.ďYour love is better than ice cream, better than anything else that Iíve tried.Your love is better than ice cream, everyone here knows how to fall.Ē†† Thatís the best complement she can think to give.Ice cream gives so much pleasure, for something to top it, it would have to be very extraordinary.Almost everyone has experienced the fall into and out of love.Sometimes itís better than others.The act of eating ice cream itself is something that can be shared with your lover.Ď50ís America had its soda fountains and ice cream parlors where scores of young teens would sit and gaze into each otherís eyes over some icy dessert.The feelings of love are intensified by the feelings from the icy treat as it probes it fingers into the brain.The regions of the brain that receive these pleasures must not be too far apart.That could also be why ice cream with chocolate is so common.Chocolate has been shown to stimulate the same area of the brain as love and sex.You get the cold chill of ice cream and the euphoric feeling of sex all at once.Professor Rabkin, who teaches the Fantasy Literature class at U of M, has this theory that we equate food with love.That Pavlovian love stimulus stems from our mothers nursing us.We associate this warm milk with the nurturing of the mother.Even a bottle is usually accompanied by some sort of love.Milk and the icy chills, Iím telliní you, there is something there that goes beyond its simple ingredients.

 

††††††††††† Ice cream has built empires of the companies that produce it.Multi-million dollar companies sprang from a treat that came from some Chinese guy beating frozen milk with a spoon. Legend has it that Marco Polo brought it back from his voyages to the orient[4].Then Charles I ordered 500 pounds of it a year and decreed that it would be a food for the royalty only[5].We can thank his cooks who disobeyed and brought ice cream to the masses.Now there is an ice cream shop in every single Podunk little town.There are the big chains like: Dairy Queen, Friendlyís, Tastee Freez, and TCBY.The proliferation of modern refrigeration has brought ice cream into the home more so than the mechanical ice cream makers of old.Before then, you had to make it that day, or go to an ice cream parlor.Who hasnít heard of Ben & Jerryís, Haagen-Dazs, Popsicles, Good Humor, Breyerís, Klondike, and Eskimo Pie.Although the classics are popular, people are constantly searching for new flavors.Manuel Da Silva Oliveira has concocted 709 flavors[6].He makes Baskin-Robbins look like your Grandmas freezer with the one container thatís so covered with ice that you canít tell what flavor it originally was.Some of his flavors, such as: tuna, onion, pork rind, avocado, and shredded beef donít sound all that appetizing.Then again thatís just me.There is probably someone out there who counts one of those amongst their favorite flavors.The National Ice Cream & Yogurt Retailers Assoc. records more than $500 million in business every year[7].There is a magazine for ice cream retailers called The National Dipper[8].People love ice cream.We have for a long time and it seems like we will for an even longer time into the future.It is only natural that people wanting to make money would attempt to cash in on this

 

††††††††††† I scraped my spoon against the bottom of the cup.Hoping that somehow more would appear, like some magic sort of culinary Tinkerbell trick (you only need to believe, you had the power within you all along).†† I realize that Iím done with my ice cream and no amount of hoping can fix that.It could order more, but I know Iíve already procrastinated too long.My mind must get back to the mind numbing school work that awaits.I feel a little refreshed from my too short respite.I stuff the empty cup into the trash can, and stand for a second wishing I was still eating the ice cream it contained not more than a moment ago.As I plunge into the icy wind I canít help but think back to my youth before schoolwork and jobs.When summer was just for fun and ice cream was the manna of the gods.†††††††



[1] http://gigaplex.com/10top/10flavor.htm

[2] http://www.dreyers.com/scoop/index.html

[3] http://www.inyourtown.com/allmedia/icecream/default.htm

4 http://csf.colorado.edu/lists/elan/jun98/0074.html

[5] http://www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/dairydeu/ichist.htm

[6] http://www.nationaldipper.com/

[7] http://www.nicyra.org

[8] http://www.nationaldipper.com/