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Category: Musing
Tags: Cream Vanilla

Meditations on Ice Cream

Many modes exist for enjoying ice cream: as one of the most refreshing things to relax with on a Summer's day or even in the still of Winter, often one must consider all possible flavors, all possible toppings, all possible avenues of enjoyment through which we may explore ice cream. This article is an exposition and commentary of my favorite avenues.

Vanilla (with a cherry on top)

There really is no other way to enjoy everyone's favorite vanilla flavor than to put the metaphorical cherry on top; most people do not realize the cherry is essential: it enhances the pure, untouched vanilla bean flavor of the ice cream with its dripping red shadow, vaguely sweet and closely bitter. It's not within everyone's capacity to enjoy this heavenly combination, however, there are a number of us with the tongue for such depthy flavors.

The number of my years has taught me that this is the superior mode to enjoy vanilla ice cream: had one asked me earlier in my youth I'd say rocky road or perhaps peach was superior, but I understand now the sweet allure of vanilla + cherry. It's taken a while but I am glad to peer into the misty fog below such heights as to those I have climbed in ice-cream-understanding.

The most alluring thing of all: the combination subverts your understanding of vanilla. Vanilla: sweet, pure, comfortable and familiar. Cherry: unexpected, sweet, and vaguely sultry. The contrast here is important: were it cherry ice cream I should laugh: the cherry is meant to be discrete as if it were a side-dish, so as to preserve the flavor-contrast of vanilla + cherry. From the esthetic treatment that is the chief, overwhelming attraction: contrast.

抹茶風味 (Matcha)

Some times I need to relax with something a little more familiar: matcha ice cream is my escape when I feel that way. It (depending on the quality) very nearly resembles matcha green tea; it goes great by itself or (and especially) with fruits like raspberries, blackberries, even blueberries... it can even be enjoyed with 小豆 (adzuki beans) on the side as well. When I was in Tōkyō I enjoyed crêpes with matcha ice cream when I visited Harajuku (rather often). The experience can only be enhanced by adding things like this on the side or wrapping it all up in a crêpe; it certainly never hurt to enhance what would otherwise be a simple, satisfying, lovely flavor with a little fruit or something.

One of my many ventures to Harajuku was to a little matcha tea shop there; I stole some of her ce cream (and her my tea!); it was then that I realized how complex a texture matcha ice cream has, and how well it goes with fruits and the like.


Goddamn. I'm not talking about peach-flavored ice cream; rather I'm talking of the mode with peaches blended in. This mode stands well by itself, needing no flanking fruits or whipped cream: the fruit is blended in; it's a reliable flavor (reliably dynamic, that is) because the contrast between the peach and the ice cream is so present; it is impossible to mask the independence of this mode.

I'd urge you to try it only by itself at first but its best needs no excessive deviation from its mode.

Peach is perfect by itself and that's why I love it so; like pulpy orange-juice I find it flawless, in good taste, perfectly independent.

Cookies and Cream

This flavor is equivalent to licking the spatula after someone's finished mixing the cookie batter. It's offensively present and unabashed of who it is; it's the flavor of young age.

There is no sub-text here, nor is there any subtlety of flavor: everything that it is is on the table, surrendered, vulnerable in front of you; it requires no special palette or special state of mind to understand; it's childish in the simplest sense.


Don't misunderstand me: I love neapolitan. It's a deceptively simple juxtaposition of three conflicting flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Typically each unit of ice cream is blended homogenously (i.e. no strawberry chunks in the strawberry block, etc.) but the combination of these three brings out the unique characteristic in each; it's deceptive for its simplicity: that is a contrast in itself though it pairs very, very well with graham crackers (or similar).

Butter Pecan

This only gets an honorable mention for being my favorite until I was ~19 (and graduated into an understanding of the world of vanilla + cherry). Anytime my mom'd ask me to bring everyone back ice cream from the shop I'd always get butter pecan: it's fine, I suppose, but it's complex texture is a failed and weak attempt at true texture.

One might suppose that butter pecan is a wild card; it's not; butter pecan is vanilla for people who don't feel comfortable enjoying vanilla. Yea, vanilla is fine every once in a while; I even crave butter pecan every once in a while. But the self-same nature of most butter pecan things (like most vanilla things) is underwhelming; its best trait is the room it leaves for expansion / addition; label me as "not a fan".

Allow me to postfix this with: I've not tried every mode of ice cream. I'm sure there are some modes I would die for that I have never tasted of; but I am always trying new flavors. Likewise, I encourage you to venture outside your comfort zone and indulge in flavors and modes the next time you are at the ice cream store that you'd normally never get.

Act without reason; spontaneously; do not be so concerned with "this is not me!" as you are with "I only want to explore my desire"; only then will you leave the store truly fulfilled.

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