Jan 20, 2009

ice cream

ice cream is deeply satisfying in the tropics. you cannot delay or otherwise draw out the eating, it melts so quickly after being removed from refrigeration.

here in the motherland, it can be purchased (for a dollar) as a small brick sandwiched between two pieces of baked wafer from an umbrella-shaded pushcart. there must be hundred of these carts, all tended by wizened individuals with old knives sharpened to the point of concavity, and the stuff all comes in paperboard-wrapped blocks from the same creamery (it may still be magnolia)--always sweet corn, red bean, yam, coconut, and raspberry ripple. a decisive cut, then the cardboard skin is peeled off with the tip of the knife. specialty bars and the like can be bought, but where is the charm in those? sometimes, if you're lucky, you encounter a cart that additionally carries a vat of singapore-style neapolitan: strawberry, chocolate, and sweet corn. (yes, really.) this you can only purchase in a stacks of tiny spheres in a wafer cone or in sandwich form, wrapped in a slice of soft bread. i made an ice cream sandwich at the ranch this summer, only to be met by retching and gagging noises all evening long from faithless unbelievers; it may be an acquired taste.

there's a reassuring continuity here: flavours, carts, wafers, knife-wielding old men and women, haven't changed since the 1980s. years ago, one of these pushcarts used to wait on coleman street, outside the old anglo-chinese primary school and ambush us on our way to the MRT station at city hall with a tootling horn and the promise of ice cream.

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