I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
Classic vanilla has been replaced. July is National Ice Cream month in the United States (yes it exists!), and to honour this universal frozen treat, we thought we’d celebrate here in Canada as well- after all, it’s summertime and there’s always room for ice cream! While the Italians are famous for their gelato and the French love their sorbet, North Americans are hopping on the ice cream train (er, truck?) and creating their own unique flavours. In 1984, President Ronald Regan designated July as National Ice Cream month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day (this year, it falls on Sunday, July 21).
King Tang of the Shang Dynasty is said to have created an icy, milk-flour recipe in 618-97 AD that was the first incarnation of ice cream. Later, the Roman Emperor Nero sent his servants to the mountain-top to gather snow and fruit to make a sweet concoction that more resembled the ice-cream of today. Fast forward through Marco Polo bringing the idea to Italy and the invention of the first ice cream machine in the 1840s, to ice cream becoming such a favourite and a staple that Ben and Jerry’s and Baskin-Robbins are household names.
Ice cream is becoming as diverse as its admirers all over the world. People are experimenting with flavour profiles that aren’t limited to traditional dessert ingredients. With cheddar cheese ice cream in the Philippines, jalapeno ice cream in Mexico, and octopus ice cream in Japan, it’s clear that each nation is applying their food customs to this frozen dessert. The ice cream shop Heladeria Coromoto in Venezuela has close to 900 flavours and 80 different flavours available daily. They hold the Guinness World Record for the longest list of flavours- including avocado, plantain, chilli, shrimp, and Pepsi. It seems like anything can be made into ice cream, and there’ll always be people willing to eat it.
In Canada, we may be less adventurous customers and ice cream connoisseurs, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our own tasty ice cream parlours with a hint of rebellion. You can find exotic flavours at Mario’s Gelati in Vancouver, such as the Asian-inspired black sesame, durian, and lychee, or garlic and Dijon mustard flavours. In Muskoka, Belly Ice Cream serves up basil gelato and Thai watermelon sorbetto, and Ed’s Real Scoop in Toronto has been known for their red hot chili chocolate and Guinness ice cream.
If you’re more of a traditionalist and opt for the nostalgic flavours, they’re always around too. The trendy, self-serve, pay-by-weight, frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere. Menchie’s, CC Swirls, and Yogurty’s have a large following of people prepared to make their own, more classic creations.
It’s not like we need an excuse, but National Ice Cream month is just another reason to indulge, return to our childhood and conjure images of hot, summer days and the memorable melody of the ice cream truck. While unusual is interesting, I’ll take two scoops of cookies ‘n cream, please- after I try the lobster sorbet.
What’s your favourite bizarre ice cream flavour and where can we try it? Tell us in the comments below!