Vanilla, anyone?

So here we are, the morning after the Valentine’s night before.  A night for romance, love, fine food and wine. And, like any good meal, dessert to finish. Now, I’m not always one for dessert straight after a ‘special dinner’ such as Valentine’s. Sure, I’ve been looking forward to dessert all day, but sometimes I might want to rest a while before diving in to the final bowl. And you know how it is. With all the build up and the planning, all the anticipation of the luscious end to a night filled with all the romantic trimmings. Yes, one or both of you fall asleep before the piece de resistance, the final movement, the climactic finale. Even worse, one of you is definitely up for dessert and the other is too full of the trimmings to want to finish the meal.

nothing wrong with vanilla

 And when you do get dessert, do you always want vanilla ice cream? Don’t get me wrong, I like ice cream as much as the next guy, but if you’re always served vanilla, even the richest, creamiest, sweetest vanilla you’ve ever tasted, just occasionally you might like to spice it up and throw a new flavour in there. But you bought the restaurant that makes the best vanilla ice cream in the world, and the pâtissière is the woman you love the most and would never hurt, not for anything, and certainly not for a brief taste of another ice cream flavour which is not her preferred (or, god forbid, her own). Back in the day, of course, we were happy to get any ice cream. As a young, free and single guy, I would take a bowlful whenever it was offered, and I’m not exactly proud to say, generally speaking I wasn’t too fussy ~ I would lick a bowl clean from whomever was offering. But in those days ice cream was not a common treat and our tastes change with age. So the investment was made, and we built a most amazing ice cream parlour, just the way we like it. When we started out we did experiment with lots of different flavours, as you do. And, again as you do, we fell into the routine of a regular bowl of vanilla (it’s nice to lick the bowl, but apparently licking a cone is less appealing for some reason).

What also doesn’t help is that we see recipes for all manner of ice cream flavours every day, what with the interweb assailing us in all directions. Facebook fiends will tell you about this amazing new ice cream parlour they tried, and there are plenty who claim to have tried thousands (‘claimed’). Social media (which surely is actually the most anti-social form of media) regails us with bawdy tales of the rich and famous caught at the flavour fountain, gorging on pistachio and mocha, walnut maple fudge with a chocolate stick shoved in the middle, or strawberry swirl lashed with thick straps of licorice laces. We hear about people every day who are open about their preference for a savoury snack for dessert, or those who take their ice cream differently to the rest. Even those who claim no interest in dessert whatsoever, and that’s all fine. It’s just that we never had this exposure to the richness of flavours when we were kids. Back then, the only hint of the flavours available came from the recipe books hidden at the back of the wardrobe.

who new Dad was such an ice cream afficianado?

Back then, there was rumour about the options available, and always some kid who claimed to have tasted the sweetness of freshest vanilla before anyone else was even thinking about dessert. Back then there were always ‘those girls’ who liked to share a bowl of their ice cream with the chosen guys (never me, but there were always rumours). Later there was rumour, only ever rumour, about the couples who liked to throw in an extra flavour burst from time to time. Stir in some chocolate maybe, or a lashing of whipped cream. The crushed nuts never appealed, but the suggestion of adding a pinch of spice, maybe a little cayenne to add some fire to the sweetness always lingered. But I never did. I chose what was right for me, and built my own ice cream parlour with my dearest milkmaid. And, for the most part, we seem to want dessert at about the same time. My tooth is sweeter, and she’s not always hungry, but she’s always willing to rustle me up a quick milkshake. So much better than the ones I make for myself.

And I’m happy, very happy to enjoy rich, creamy, sweet vanilla for the rest of my days. The flavour board sure is tempting though.

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