In Part 2 of my paean to ice cream, I thought I might share a bit of the history of
favorite dessert. The origins of this frosty treat are hidden in the mists of
time, with numerous cultures claiming credit. The ancient Persians poured syrup
on snow (more like a snow cone, really), and the Chinese developed a frozen
mixture of milk and ice that may, or may not, have been brought to America Europe by Marco Polo. Tenth century Arabs produced
something closer to our modern dish using milk or cream, sometimes mixed with
yogurt, and flavored with rosewater, dried fruits, and nuts.
Here’s a fascinating recipe from Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts, published inTo ice cream.
1718, courtesy of Wikipedia. London
Take Tin Ice-Pots, fill them with any Sort of Cream you like, either plain or sweeten’d, or Fruit in it; shut your Pots very close; to six Pots you must allow eighteen or twenty Pound of Ice, breaking the Ice very small; there will be some great Pieces, which lay at the Bottom and Top: You must have a Pail, and lay some Straw at the Bottom; then lay in your Ice, and put in amongst it a Pound of Bay-Salt; set in your Pots of Cream, and lay Ice and Salt between every Pot, that they may not touch; but the Ice must lie round them on every Side; lay a good deal of Ice on the Top, cover the Pail with Straw, set it in a Cellar where no Sun or Light comes, it will be froze in four Hours, but it may stand longer; then take it out just as you use it; hold it in your Hand and it will slip out. When you wou’d freeze any Sort of Fruit, either Cherries, Rasberries, Currants, or Strawberries, fill your Tin-Pots with the Fruit, but as hollow as you can; put to them Lemmonade, made with Spring-Water and Lemmon-Juice sweeten’d; put enough in the Pots to make the Fruit hang together, and put them in Ice as you do Cream.
Improvements in refrigeration technology and manufacturing methods have given us an almost endless supply of flavors and variations from sorbets to soft-serve, but our desire remains unslaked. After all, can you ever really have too much ice cream?