Vanilla Ice Cream

August 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I tried ice cream for the first time in the Czech Republic, arguably one of their main food groups (alongside bread, meat and potatoes). It was light and fluffy, unlike any other ice cream I have tasted. It has the texture of whipped cream in a frozen state and came in flavors such as whiskey cream and sour berry. A single scoop cost 20 crowns, just over a dollar.

Later in the day, we walked a couple more blocks to the Mysak pastry shop. After a bit of fussing around with the guy behind the counter — who we are certain now, was attempting to ask us back for coffee sometime, but couldn’t quite phrase the question correctly and then got nervous when we didn’t understand — we made our (single) order: a white sponge cake topped with a layer of fluffed cream and a tall layer of jellied sour berries, all covered in a sheet of marzipan. It got wrapped up so extensively that we stood on the sidewalk for a good five minutes, spoons at the ready, battling sheets of paper out of the way to get at the slice.

Standing on the street, I realized this was probably the first real food adventuring I have done in Prague, not counting the first time I tried fried Camembert with cranberry relish. Here, I’ve been more obsessed with the people, the people from all over the world (though mostly Europe) that flock here. Not the people that are scrambling into pictures on the Charles Bridge, but the people who have come here and somehow ended up staying. The people you find sitting on the curb in the middle of the night, tying their metallic gold kicks, who jump at a conversation when you compliment their shoes. The French tourists you can convince from going to one of the snazziest clubs in town to one of the grungiest, and they don’t even bat an eye. The Dutch kids, and oh there are a lot of them — I think I’ve heard “I’m from Holland” more than any other country combined in the past few weeks — who arrive in huge packs (think 11).

Which is sort of how I came here. But it’s funny now, as I am talking to a bunch of Czech youth for an article I am finishing up, how similar the atmosphere here is, at least politically — the frustration with feeling like the government rarely does what it promises on the campaign trail, the apathy of the youth towards voting because they feel it will not make a difference, the feeling that the country’s money is not going where it should. The article has been a reminder that a lot of political and economic problems traverse national and cultural borders, that a lot of the world’s issues are the same no matter where you go. So while I may talk a lot about food, and what you can learn about a culture through it, nothing really beats getting out there and talking to people.

Bonus points if the talking occurs over a bowl of this ice cream.

I followed this recipe to a tee, except I used these instructions for making ice cream by hand. Yes, you read that correctly. You do not need an ice cream maker. Get in the kitchen and make this, your view of ice cream will never be the same again.

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