Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sticky toes (ice cream: a family history)

When we were little we always ate family dinner at the kitchen table but sometimes we ate family dessert while watching TV on the couch or in my parents' bed and in either location, my dad was in charge, doling out morsels one by one. Sometimes he'd grab a bowl and two or three oranges and peel and segment and hand each of us a piece in turn but sometimes he'd grab a bowl and fill it with two or three scoops of ice cream and we all got a bit of the spoon each in turn and for some reason I think we were equally happy with oranges or ice cream and for some reason we never questioned my dad's tyranny of the (segments) spoon.

E only likes vanilla ice cream and not that fancy premium kind, either, with visible flecks of vanilla bean because her food must be fleckless and L likes almost all ice cream but not if she heard her sister call it nasty and my lovely husband, he likes the fruity flavors but not the chocolate flavors and I like chocolate flavors if they're mixed in something else but I don't usually like straight chocolate and my dad, he probably loves it all but has developed some sort of gastrointestinal circumstance that prevents him from eating it at all and as a result my mom, she loves ice cream like a crazy person because she never any longer keeps it in her own home.

Sometimes it's hard to find fleckless vanilla so earlier this summer I began buying neapolitan, because E would eat the white and L would eat the brown and pink but don't call them flavors, just call them colors. We opened a new carton of neopolitan and the flavors had been unevenly dispensed and L got upset becuase her stripey ice cream wasn't stripey, it was sort of swirly and swirls when there should be stripes? You can only imagine how upsetting that can be. So she didn't eat very much, but E was happy because the white had definitely veered in its swirliness from 1/3 to about the 1/2 mark and she and her color were very pleased with themselves.

In reaching for the neapolitan carton for the girls I developed a taste on the tip of my tongue myself for some of the cherry garcia ice cream that I had noticed just days ago had come home with my husband from the store but when I couldn't ascertain its locale in the crowded freezer I questioned him and he said, "um, in the garbage can?" and I said, "you finished it already?" and he grinned half-sheepishly and half-smartassedly and said, "well, yeah" and I said, "and the other one?" and he said "um, in yesterday's garbage?" and if you knew him in person you'd not be wrong in muttering at this point "skinny bastard" (with love, of course).

But the taste was still itching on my tongue so I pulled out another flavor, one that had been lingering since my mother's last visit, when in her enthusiasm she finished all of our ice creams and in her guilt replaced them, but with ones she guessed we'd love but nobody's yet touched, E because they're fleckful and L because she already had stripes and the lovely husband because they weren't fruity and me because they're overly chocolately but I had that itch, so it was time to be open-minded to the ice cream.

And in truth it should be noted that the first of the too-chocolates that my mom bought turned out to be so delicious that if I remembered what it was called I'd certainly buy it again but here lay the phish food, and I know this flavor, and I like it but don't love it, and isn't ice cream one of those foods where if you're going to commit to eating it it should be with love? Like dispensed by the biteful by a spoon-wielding father or filled with just the flavors so craved by your itching tongue?

And yet. I had an itchy tongue and I had to go pump (you know, breastmilk for the boy) and as a baby-feeding mama don't I need the extra dairy myself? There was only one course of action ahead so the phish food and the pump parts and the spoon and I headed for my favorite arm chair.

And here comes L, reaching for my spoon and I thought of my father who never would have given it up but would have dropped the morsel in her mouth but has he ever encountered the screaming banshee's ice cream mantra of NO! I FEED MYSELF! ? There's a crunchy, and she wants to know what is the crunchy? And I show her it's a chocolate fish, and suddenly E wants to see but she doesn't want to eat it, of course, because we're way past fleckful territory into swirly, which will never do, but she wants to point into the ice cream to help L find the next chocolate fish, and L doesn't want help finding the fish, except she does, but from me, not her sister, and I tell her she has to eat down to find it.

She wants to feed herself, but I had grabbed a tablespoon not a teaspoon because it's been days since the dishwasher's been run and certainly not a kiddie spoon and L is forcing a tablespoon sideways into her mouth because she's fishing for the fish and marshmellow sauce is dripping on my knee and chocolate ice cream is dripping on the chair and I can't reach for a wipe or a towel or an anything and she won't let me help with the oversized spoon and I"m tethered here, under her mess and she's dripping all over me.

And here's the part where I tell you that I've seen Phish in concert, several times even, I mean I've watched Fishman play the vacuum more than once and how do you think the boys would feel about their namesake dripping on my bare feet and into the carpet?

Chocolate fish, man. Trippy. Chocolate toes. Drippy. Some things do not seem to be transmuting well unto the next generation.

I need to remember to dig for the smaller spoons. Pin It