Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Heart Ice Cream or "Why I no longer need to wear a belt"

Some people inherit their mother's nose, her nearsightedness or her ability to do long division without a paper and pencil.

I seem to have inherited my mother's love of ice cream. Love? Maybe that's not a strong enough word. Barbara has a very special, even passionate, relationship with her ice cream. There's something very peaceful about watching her lovingly assemble a massive Wednesday night ice cream Sunday that she'll carry to the couch and slowly devour while only half-watching some critic approved movie my father has selected from Netflix.

A slave to vanity, the ice cream is always of the low-fat variety, but last time I visited I caught her red-handed and in rare form: with the nozzle of a can of generic whipped cream between her lips, noisily spraying the white fluff directly down her gullet. She wordlessly passed me the can. Mother daughter bonding at it's best.

During the summer months in Japan, you can barely walk five feet without tripping over a giant, plastic ice cream cone, signaling that there is soft serve for sale inside. I felt that each of these plastic cones was a personal invitation for gluttony and ate my way through barrels of green tea soft serve all summer long. Maybe it was because I missed my mommy, or maybe ice cream eating is in my genes. Or maybe it's simply because green tea soft serve ice cream is really damn good. Regardless, I can no longer zip up my favorite gray dress.

Last week, while wearing a more forgiving frock, my BFIJ and I were strolling Higashi Chaya, Kanazawa's real-life geisha district, with it's old wooden storefronts and traditional tea houses. There's also an amazing looking ice cream shop that I have been meaning to try for months. Soy sauce, miso, yuzu, kabocha, black sesame, they were all there in ice cream form, along with the most exciting flavor of all: kagabocha, a smoky, local tea that I absolutely adore.

You can have your scoop nestled into a waffle cone (plain or chocolate) or you can try something really special: a scoop of ice cream smooshed between two squishy bamboo charcoal pancakes, topped with a floppy square of mochi and a smear of adzuki bean paste. An ice cream sandwich, Japanese style. The textures were amazing, but the delicate kagabocha flavor was drowned out by the parade of accessories. Still, I immediately began to crave another.

If the Japanese can create their own ice cream sandwich, perhaps the Jewish version isn't far behind. I'm thinking Manischewits flavored ice cream between two matzo with a smear of chopped chicken liver and a smashed coconut macaroon, kosher for Passover of course. Barb could eat it over the sink, noisily spraying each bite with a poof of generic whipped cream.