Ice cream season is upon us, and so, I believe, it is time for all of us to get off our collective bohunkus and start re-thinking some flavors for 2014. Chocolate and vanilla are all fine and good. But really. It's the 21st century. And while ice cream may be about many things -- sweetness, summertime, childhood nostalgia and so forth -- let us remember. It is also about invention.
Thousands of years went into creating ice cream as we know it today -- from the Arabs drinking sweetened syrup mixed with water, ice, or snow (sharbat) -- to Nancy Johnson, that great unsung hero, patenting the hand-cranked ice cream maker in 1843 -- to whomever the genius was behind that Dots craze in shopping malls a few years back.
In my new novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street (Grand Central Publishing, $26.00), the protagonist, Lillian Dunkle, rises from the impoverished streets of the Lower East Side in 1913 to become a titan in the ice cream industry over the course of 70 years. She does this primarily through conniving and inventiveness. To commemorate the end of WWII, she produces such flavors as "G.I. Love Chocolate" and "Armastachio." In the 1950s, she concocts "Polio Pioneer Peach" and "Chock Full O' Antibodies" to promote Jonas Salk's vaccination trials. Like the song says: You gotta have a gimmick.
Nowadays, real life, gastronomic restaurants offer bacon-and-eggs ice cream and lemongrass sorbet. Artisanal ice cream maker Coolhaus sells flavors such as "Gin & Tonic" and "Balsamic Fig & Mascarpone." Even my cousin Steven is in on the act; just last week, he whipped up a batch of "Blueberry Tequila" ice cream in his freezer. (I am delighted to report, it was much heavier on the Tequila than the blueberry -- no easy feat, given that the freezing point of alcohol is much lower than that for milk and cream.)
So, without further ado (and several scoops of tequila ice cream under my belt) allow me to offer up my own suggested ice cream flavors for 2014.
Revenge: Dark chocolate with blood orange and siracha. Ultimately not nourishing, but delicious -- providing you eat it as cold as possible, naturally.
PMS: Chocolate with chocolate fudge swirl, salted caramel, and salty pretzel chips. Served in giant pile of Kleenex.
Nail Polish: Depending on the hue, tastes like Tutti Fruiti, Cherry Vanilla, or Strawberry Daquiri.
Vodka: Served with a Twist.
Pierogi: For Chicagoians, hipsters, and downtown NYC crowd. Great follow-up after five scoops of the Vodka. Sour-cream topping optional.
Quinoa & Kale: Why the hell not? They're everywhere else these days.
Clean Up Your Room: Cookies and cream base, mixed with old shoelaces, sandwich crumbs, action figure parts, Lego blocks. Basically, an object lesson in a cup.
Minecraft: Adults will have absolutely no idea what's in it -- nor understand the appeal -- yet children between the ages of six and 14 will go bazookies for it and become addicted.
One, I Said One Scoop Only: Every flavor a kid could ever want, mixed together into one lurid ball. Parental life-saver.
Don't Tell Your Mother I Let You Have This: Mountain Dew flavor, Cap't Crunch Mix-ins. Guilt topping.
Ritalin: It, too, is everywhere else these days.