Monday, January 28, 2008

Live and Let Lick

The Ice Cream Snob Goes Bananas

© 2007 Leighann Lord

Much ado was made over a mention in a previous column about my dislike of chocolate ice cream. I've aroused the ire of a core group of loyal readers and for that I'm sorry. But if I can't be honest here, then where?

The question was posed, somewhat indignantly, "Well what kind of ice cream do you like?" Soft serve banana, of course. Not a lot of places to find this delicacy. I usually get it Denny's Ice Cream Shoppe in Coney Island. I go every Summer, the only time it's open, and cherish every loving spoonful. The rest of year I make do with banana milk shakes from Checkers.

Once upon a time McDonald's used to have banana milkshakes, but apparently I’m the only one who remembers this. People have argued me down that it never even existed. But I won't be Gas Lit. I still grieve its loss and assume it's gone the way of the Shamrock Shake.

People have suggested that I could make my own banana milkshake. No I can't. I'm not being lazy here. I've actually tried, and it turns out that I don't really enjoy the taste of real bananas as much as I do artificial banana flavoring. Once again, just being honest.

I hear you chocolate ice cream lovers out there bemoaning this travesty. You wonder, "How could a nice girl like you turn to the ice cream dark side?" Blame my Dad. He used to bring home banana ice cream from Carvel. It was hard packed, which I've never liked. I have an aversion to fighting with my food. So I'd let it melt. Very tricky business that. There's a knack to letting hard ice cream get soft but not soupy. It's all in the timing.

My preference for soft serve ice cream makes me big fan of Mister Softee, the ubiquitous ice cream truck that trolls around my neighborhood every Summer. Well, I was a fan until someone cruelly pointed out a few unpleasant logistics. If the guy spends all day in the truck, where does he go to the bathroom? And, more importantly, where does he wash his hands? This comes firmly under the heading of things I'd rather not think about, but you can't unthink a thought. My apologies if I've ruined it for you. I'm sure the guy has an arrangement with a local gas station and makes liberal use of hand sanitizer.

I'm not a total ice cream renegade. I also like more mainstream fare such as vanilla, butter pecan and Ben & Jerry's Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream. I know the latter is not main stream, but it should be. It used to be served at the Ben & Jerry's in Harlem on 125th Street. I'd make a special trip just to get a cup. By special trip I mean: get in the car, drive from Queens to Manhattan and pay to get over the Triboro Bridge. It was that good.

I was heated when Ben & Jerry's took my precious Sweet Potato Pie ice cream off the menu. That location closed shortly there after. It's demise precipitated, I'm sure, by it's unwise removal of my favorite flavor.

I've since learned that Ben & Jerry's periodically retires flavors from it's menu. One of my goals is to become so famous that they bring this flavor back just for me; re-christening it: "Sweet Leighann's Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream." I'm dead serious. This is actually written down in my list of goals. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Given my ice cream history -- hard to find flavors, discontinued items -- it would be so much easier if I liked something more readily available. Chocolate never goes out of style. But I'll begrudge you not your flavor of choice if you begrudge me not mine. I am called to walk the ice cream road less traveled. And when the path is dark, I console myself with sweet dreams of Breyers Viennetta. Better to have licked and lost, then never to have licked at all.

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