Apr 30, 2008

Ice Cream & Class Distinction On The RMS Titanic

One of the interests within my family is maritime history, perhaps not surprisingly as we originate from the British Isles where seafaring is an ingrained in our sense of heritage and culture. There is much within the subject to be interested in dating back centuries, but perhaps the most significant impact ever made by a single maritime event was the tragedy of the British passenger liner RMS Titanic. which sank at 2.20am on 15 April 1912.

The sense of tragedy about the RMS Titanic was not just about the loss of the (then) world's largest and greatest liner or about it having happened on its maiden voyage, but the scale and sense of human loss. Loss in terms of lost lives and also in terms of people's loss of confidence in the future. Up until the tragedy, people of that era had seemed so sure of being in control of their fate, of technology and 'progress'. The tragedy still echoes within the minds of people today, almost 100 years later and as the end of April approaches I felt it somehow appropriate to write this article.

With my strong interest in food and recipes, especially ice cream, I wondered what kind of food was on the menu for that fateful voyage. The wide selection of books we have at home on the subject provided me with some answers. To my surprise, ice cream was on both the first and second class menus for RMS Titanic on 14 April 1912 - the last day the ship ever saw daylight.

The first class menu listed "French Ice Cream" and the second class menu listed "American Ice Cream". Clearly in those days, people felt there was a difference sufficient to be reflected within class distinction. A strange notion today given how massively popular ice cream is and how it seems to transcend all class and cultural barriers.

To see a scan of the second class menu on RMS Titanic for 14 April 1912 (showing "American Ice Cream") go to the website of the National Maritime Museum - here

To see the list of what appeared on the first class menu including "French Ice Cream" go to the Webtitanic site (an Irish tribute) - here

For anyone interested in the difference between the two types of ice cream, "French Ice Cream" is generally regarded as a richer and more complex recipe as it requires a custard base to be made first.

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Apr 21, 2008

Fried Ice Cream To Doughnuts

There's a page on my website about fried ice cream. The reason it's there to be honest is not because I prefer ice cream fried but because it is very popular in a number of countries. Let's face it, we all need to eat a healthy diet and I'm the first to agree with that idea but once in a while we all need a treat and when it comes to food, fried food for some people is just that - a special treat. So put ice cream into a fried context and it's a winner.

Then I got to thinking about what other fried desserts are popular and of course probably the most popular has to be doughnuts. What I didn't realise until recently was that doughnuts have a variety of other names in different parts of the world - Churro in Mexico, Oliebollen in the Netherlands, Balushai in India, Berliner or Krapfen in Germany and Zeppola in Italy to name a few.

I came across a web page about the history of doughnuts which has some fascinating facts and claims that it was the Portuguese who spread the basic recipe for fried dough to different parts of the world. Wikipedia's page contests this with one suggestion that it might have been Dutch settlers who first brought the idea of fried dough to North America. Here's the wiki page on doughnuts for anyone interested. Whoever was responsible matters little in my view - doughnuts are here to stay. Just don't eat too many!

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Apr 7, 2008

The Story Of The Long Distance Strasberries

Strasberry - no, it's not a misprint and yes it is a real fruit. I recently read about this unusual and rare variety of strawberry and jumped headlong into a 'quest' to find out more and, moreover, to get hold of some strasberries and use them in an ice cream recipe.

It took just under a week from the start of my 'quest' to having a strasberry ice cream batched in my ice cream maker. It was not the easiest of tasks. Here's why:
  1. The only place to get strasberries currently in the UK is Waitrose in London.
  2. Strasberries are only being sold by them at selected stores and for a limited period.
  3. When I rang one of their London branches I was told they had sold out of strasberries.
  4. Undaunted by this I enlisted the help of a close friend, a resident of central London, who kindly offered to pursue the matter further.
  5. My friend, Mary, then managed to enlist the help of someone else - friendly Waitrose store assistant Neil who said that some more strasberries might be coming in and would reserve some for her to go in, buy and collect.
  6. Having trekked down to the store and bought the strasberries, Mary then had to get them to me - via post!
  7. They arrived by Special Delivery with our postman fully intrigued by what was in the box. It was leaking strasberry juice! He didn't seem to mind though - his comment was that the smell was wonderful!
  8. I immediately unwrapped the strasberry juice-soaked package to find the strasberries still amazingly in tact and placed them in the refrigerator whilst I got ready to make ice cream.
  9. Half an hour later, using my own strawberry ice cream recipe as a basis, I was busy making my own strasberry ice cream.
  10. The result .... a truly delicious and unique ice cream.

I photographed every step of the ice cream making process so that I had evidence of what I'd done and how different the strasberries looked compared to normal strawberries and full details of my 'strasberry experience' are now live on ice-cream-recipes.com - see:

The Strasberry
My recipe for Strasberry Ice Cream
My Strasberry Photographs

All published and live today 7 April 2008. It's a date I can easily remember as it's Jackie Chan's birthday - one of my son's heroes (and one of mine too!). I've already written about Jackie enjoying chocolate ice cream so it couldn't be a better publishing date.

Having checked extensively on Google, it appears that mine is the very first strasberry ice cream recipe ever published on the Internet. A genuine 'World First'. I'm delighted!

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Apr 5, 2008

Ice Cream In Movies

I have already written a section on my website about ice cream and famous people. Since then I've been thinking about just how many movies I've seen over the years which feature ice cream in some way or other.

Here's a list of just a few:

  • "Charlie & Chocolate Factory" starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton. The scene in question features the words "Never Melting Ice Cream" on a display board outside a shop with the sign "Fickelgruber Ice Cream"(Fickelgruber was supposedly a fierce competitor of Willy Wonka' s who had stolen his recipe for an ice cream that never melts even when left out in the sun on a hot day).

  • "Hard Day's Night" the 1964 Beatles movie - Clang escapes in a "Mr. Whippy" van (British equivalent of the American Good Humor van)

  • "The Medallion" starring Jackie Chan in 2002 - an outtake at the end of the movie shows Jackie with a serious face confronting the 'villain' and before he can deliver his line, an ice cream truck goes past playing its ice cream jingle. Jackie keeps a straight face and, realising they can't keep the take, says "I want ice cream!"

  • "Borat" the 2006 hit movie in which Sacha Baron Cohen travels across the USA in an old ice cream van.

There's hundreds more! Makes you realise just how much ice cream is a part of our society.

Here's a great website if you're interested in researching movies imdb.com

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