Few dishes seem as quintessentially American as ice cream, whether served on a cone, drowning in hot fudge, with cherry on top, or all of the above. (The average American consumed 35.9 pints in 2011!) But the creamy treat's history spans centuries and continents, with variations served during great empires in China and Persia before arriving in America's beloved ice cream shops.
While ice cream traditionalists may stick to chocolate and vanilla -- or perhaps strawberry or cookie dough to shake things up -- the repertoire is quickly expanding beyond these old standbys into the realm of the savory. The crazy flavors on this list extend into unfamiliar ice cream territory, both in taste and geography. Many of the flavors reflect local specialties, including hummus in Israel, and bacalao (salted cod) in Puerto Rico. Other flavors like breast milk, salad, and spaghetti and cheese just sound like interesting science experiments.
For a splurge, France's Philippe Faur offers a caviar ice cream, while Canada's Bella Gelateria ups the luxury by infusing both black caviar and white truffle into its gelato. Those who prefer a less gourmet experience can head to supermarkets in the UK and Japan, where they'll find mustard and salad flavors, respectively.
Beyond the dairy aisle, some shops have built their reputation on quirky combinations. Max and Mina's in Queens offers lox, pizza, and horseradish flavors that make their Cap'n Crunch and sweet noodle kugel scoops look tame by comparison. The freezer of Puerto Rico's Heladeria Lares contains up to 50 flavors that range from rice and beans to rice pudding.
While the vanilla cone and banana split will always remain classics, these 10 weird flavors are redefining the boundaries of dessert and spoiling our appetites for dinner.
Spaghetti and Cheese (Heladeria Coromoto, Venezuela)
Dieters in Japan have a best friend in salad ice cream. The strawberry base with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers makes indulgences feel a little more virtuous, and it’s widely available in supermarkets. Those in search of something even crazier can search the freezer for horsemeat, squid, and curry flavors.
Photo Credit: Wordpress/Katheacrobat
Hummus (Legenda Ice Cream, Israel)
Israel’s ubiquitous spread doesn’t need pita any longer at Legenda Ice Cream in Jaffa. The shop’s hummus ice cream contains ground chickpeas, tahini, vanilla, and sugar. The result is a sweet take on hummus that tastes similar to halva, a dessert of tahini and honey.
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Breast Milk (The Icecreamists, U.K.)
Ice cream makers have experimented with goat’s milk before, but London shop The Icecreamists (since closed) drew headlines in 2011 when it experimented with human milk. “Baby Gaga” contained breast milk from paid donors flavored with vanilla and lemon zest. Though shop said it screened and pasteurized the milk, the London city government confiscated the product for a period after its launch over public concerns of safety. Served in a martini glass, the controversial scoop cost an equivalent of $22.50.
Photo Credit: The Icecreamists
Bacalao (Heladeria Lares, Puerto Rico) The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
Bacalao, or salt cod, is the key ingredient in the staple Puerto Rican fish stew. At Heladeria Lares in the small town of Lares, it’s also a popular ice cream flavor. Pair it with arroz con habichuelas (rice with stewed beans) for an icy, savory meal.
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