Tag Archives: Ice cream

Synesthetic Sundae

The ice cream tasted like Bach, with a hint of rainy day mornings. Alicia savored each snow-day-ecstasy bite and let it slide down her throat like rosy melodrama.

“It’s not your fault, you know,” her father said.

Alicia picked a jazzy green sprinkle out of the chocolate syrup eruption and ate it delicately.

“Honestly, it’s totally my fault. I realize that now.” His voice was blushing, Alicia noticed. She picked out another green sprinkle, this one not quite so jazzy. “Are you listening to me?” She nodded into her sundae.

“It’ll be hard at first, I’m sure. It always is. But we’ll get through it, right?”

She plucked the maraschino cherry from its cozy pillow of whipped cream. It smelled like white clouds in blue skies and bees bumbling through tall grass. She smiled.

Her father smiled back, encouraged. “I knew you’d understand. For now, you’ll stay in the house with your mom. Once I find a place, you can come visit on weekends. We’ll have fun, I promise.”

Alicia’s head snapped up. She saw the sickly-sweet cough syrup look in his eyes. Her stomach suddenly felt pop quiz.

He smiled again. “Eat up, kiddo. It’s going to melt.”

She pushed the sundae away. “It tastes gray,” she said.

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The Worst Thing About Skeletons

The Worst Thing About Skeletons

The worst thing about skeletons is that they’re heartless. It’s also true that they don’t have an ounce of bile in them, but this hardly makes up for it. I’ve only known one skeleton and he drove the ice cream truck that prowled my neighborhood like a jangling Jaws.

Tinkle tinkle tinkle

I was mowing the lawn one day when I heard the truck coming. The sound make the image of frosty popsicles and drippy ice cream sandwiches rise like mirages in my heat-addled mind. The truck pulled up and stopped next to me.

“Hey Mort,” I said.

“Hot day, isn’t it?” the skeleton said, leaning out, the afternoon sun gleaming on pearly white bone where his heart should have been.

“I’m on a diet,” I said. “You know that.” I’d been off ice cream for over 50 days. Ice Cream Anonymous had even given me a chip.

“For old time’s sake?” Mort said, holding out a Fudgsicle to me.

“You don’t know what it’s like,” I said, then had an idea. “Okay, fine. I’ll have one . . . when you gain one pound. How much do you weigh now?”

“17 pounds,” he said.

“Prove it,” I said. He came into the house and weighed himself: 17 pounds, 2 ounces. “The day you’re 18 pounds, 2 ounces, I’ll have an ice cream,” I said.

“No problem,” he said, grinning with all his teeth.

I saw him later that week, stocking up on calcium pills. Two weeks later, he stopped by. “I’m up 3 ounces,” he declared proudly. A month later, he’d made it up to 17 pounds 7 ounces. I wasn’t very worried.

The next week Mort showed up at my door. He was wearing a coat, which was odd for him. He usually only wore a coat in the fall to keep errant leaves from sticking in his rib cage.

“I’ve gained a pound,” he said quietly. “I’m 18 pounds 2 ounces now.”

“Really?” I looked hard at him. His bones didn’t look any thicker. I wondered vaguely if he’d gotten a brain.

He opened his coat. “I got a heart,” he said. I saw it sitting in his rib cage, pumping idly in a self-conscious way, like a shadow boxer who suddenly finds himself the main event.

“Fine, you won.” I fingered the 100-day chip in my pocket sadly.

“I’m sorry for before,” Mort said. “I didn’t understand.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a peeled apple perched on a cone of wrapped kale. “Snack?”


Patbingsu: Korea’s Summer Ambrosia

When I grew up, in Canada, there were two main cold treats in the summer: ice cream and those long freezies that cut the sides of your mouth when you ate them. And maybe popsicles.

Like sucking on a cherry flavored dagger

Like sucking on a fruit flavored dagger

It wasn’t until I came to Korea that I discovered something better than all of that. You heard me. Even better than ice cream, and not just because this thing sometimes includes ice cream. It’s called patbingsu (팥빙수) which translates as “red bean ice water”.

Okay, I admit that’s not a very delicious-sounding name. Bear with me.

The main ingredient of any patbingsu is shaved ice, which makes up most of it. This guarantees it’s about the most refreshing you could eat on a hot summer day. After that, there are sweetened red beans. Some people don’t like them, but I really do. Beyond that, it’s whatever you want to put on it. The most common toppings are ice cream, condensed milk, fruit cocktail, fresh fruit, small candies, strawberry syrup, small little rice cakes that look like marshmallows, sprinkles, etc.

This has long been a summer mainstay. Everywhere serves it over here, even fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and KFC. Here is what I think of a traditional patbingsu looks like. This is what I ate today at a hole-in-the-wall food stand near my school.

Yum...

Yum…

Of course, this is how it comes but you can’t eat it like this. First you have to mix it up really good until it doesn’t look as pretty.

patbingsu 2

These days, patbingsu has become a more high-class treat and so has generally become much more expensive and made with higher-quality ingredients (not better though, in my opinion). The above patbingsu cost me about $2.50.

Here is one I had a week or so ago at a coffee shop:

patbingsu 3This one is much fancier and has sliced almonds, pieces of ddeok (rice cake) and things that look like brownies but aren’t (I ate it and I still don’t know what they were). It was good, but almost twice the price as the one above and not quite as good.

These days, there are other kinds of bingsu, for people who don’t want red beans. I have see fruit bingsu (very good), yogurt bingsu, coffee bingsu, green tea bingsu, rice cake bingsu, berry bingsu, etc. Here is the selection at a national bakery chain, Paris Baguette:

Paris Baguette bingsuThese are all quite delicious (except maybe the green tea bingsu) although they are quite expensive. The most expensive bingsu I ever bought was a 2-person strawberry frozen yogurt bingsu for about $12.00.

Whenever I finally go back to North America, this will be one of the hardest things about Korea to leave behind. One solution is to live near a large Korean population. Another idea is for all of you who live in North America to start popularizing this dessert and really make it catch on in a big way (you can start by sharing this post). That way, when I get back, it will be there waiting for me.

It’s win-win, trust me.


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