Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 12
FROM THE EDITOR
A Short History of
the Ice Cream
You start early enough in life with way
too much at one serving, you could well
be hooked for life.
by Kurt Rheinheimer
COURTESY ROANOKE CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY VIRGINIA ROOM
The memory of your first kiss-second
grade, on the playground, placed
in the same spirit as the day before
when you gave her a flower and
then ran away, or perhaps the day
before when you pushed her on the
shoulder and ran away-is akin to the
event itself . . . fleeting, indistinct and gone
in the piece of a second that it endured.
Only a little less precise are the first memories of ice
And while I'm sure this was not be the actual first taste,
this is first lasting-memory taste, well before the first kiss,
and was on a grassy hillside on a warm summer day. The
cone fit well in my hand, but its contents were huge-
reaching up and out in a perfect chocolate shape.
This was at the Clover Creamery, where my grandfather took us on selected weekend days when we spent
the summers in Radford, Virginia. There was a white
fence around the building, and people of all ages spread
out over the grassy slope with their cones. The memory
is both vivid and gauzy, kind of black-and-white and
with hints of a Fellini movie maybe.
Jump ahead a few years to the hike my father took me
on, along the Appalachian Trail in Maine. My duty on
several occasions, as a very short person (as 9-year-olds
are prone to be), was to crawl under the blow-downs
from Hurricane Carol. The three men on the trip told
me they were too tall, and I guess I bought it.
But there was the reward, intermittent though it was:
Every so many days, we would pass through a town, and
in each of those, I knew what awaited me: My very own
pint of ice cream.
I do not remember the flavors, but I'm sure vanilla
would have been perfectly satisfactory to that boy dig12 BlueRidgeCountry.com
ging a spoon again and again into his own folded carton
until it was empty.
Though I should admit that it was likely gateway behavior to the practice my brother and I occasionally undertook some years hence: Sitting down at the kitchen
table, taking a half gallon of Breyers ice cream out of
the freezer, knifing through the carton right down the
middle, and proceeding to put the contents away.
Butter Brickle was a favorite-flavor divide and conquer. Or Coffee. This was back in the day, when Breyers
was Breyers and a half gallon was a half gallon, instead
of the same-shape 48-ounce containers which today
hold the Unilever products that say Breyers on the outside. This was back in the day when ice cream was ice
cream: milk, cream, sugar, natural flavor.
But enough lament over a brand name when the
growth in small, independent creameries has reached
a point-if nowhere near the parallel phenomenon in
the craft beer industry-where you can find real, local,
delicious ice cream if you want to.
Here near Roanoke, Virginia, we have the estimable
Homestead Creamery, where a herd of 100 or so cows
provides the primary ingredient for, well, for instance,
Espresso Chocolate Chip. Which is a glorious descendant of plain (but wonderful) coffee.
And which engenders a whole new version of the
gluttony that began in the Maine woods too many decades ago to identify: Yes, my wife (who, as The Greatest
Day Hiker Of Them All, has at least pulled us through
the woods to the tune of six or eight miles to earn our
Saturday evening debauchery), and I, armed with one
spoon, pass said spoon and the true Homestead quart
back and forth until its glorious contents are no more.
And I wonder why I never get past these pesky fiveto-seven pounds.