Tuesday, May 10, 2011


What's your earliest serious food memory? Not cornflakes and milk at age four, okay? I'm talking an epiphany, a food that opened your eyes to the unusual, to intensity, to the promise of something mysterious and new. Something that made you take notice...and remember.
One of mine is a double-scoop black raspberry ice cream cone. I was about seven. We used to go up to Taconic, New York for family vacations. There was a general store. I remember a small yellow clapboarded building, three wooden steps up to the front screen door. I was a small kid; the steps were very big. Cool and dark inside, I suppose, but what I really remember is the strange new color of the ice cream, dark purpley red splotches/chunks/swirls in a paler base. Rich color, rich flavor, rich memory. And the flavor was not the usual strawberry or my beloved chocolate. To use a silly advertising phrase: this was big.
To continue the ice cream epiphany theme, in Kusadasi, Turkey about 25 years ago, I stopped at a vendor's cart and chose apricot gelato. Wow! I turned into an apricot! Intense, mouth-filling, perfumed. That scrumptuous stuff was 200% apricot. I returned to Kusadasi in 2003: it's become the Pigeon Forge of coastal Turkey, over-decorated, awash with tourists swilling drinks and stuffing themselves with faux-Turkish food while bored waiters ignore them and greedy plastic souvenir vendors wait outside like vultures. No sidewalk vendors of ice cream. I got outa there in a hurry.
I've been all over europe, I try gelato or ice cream everywhere. These days, I find lots of unusual flavors but the flavor of the flavors is strangely tame. But I keep searching. I found a tropical fruit-flavor in Bogota recently; they do weird fruits very well.
Closer to home for the last memory: South Street Seaport, New York City, in the 90's. Top floor where the food stalls were. A gelato place. It wasn't Italy but the deep dark chocolate gelato with cerise bits and swirls of cerise-flavored syrup still makes me nearly faint with pleasure. I that gelato place still there? I gotta check it out.
So...tell me yours.

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I try to answer all comments, but when I'm on the road sometimes I'm not near internet cafes. Patience! Eat some chocolate! I will get back to you!