Fourteen years ago was the very first time I tasted ice cream. Before then I always had popsicles and shaved ice – all in the most traditional Taiwanese sweet flavours such as salted plum, duck egg, and longan muscovado.
So you can imagine that late night, as my brother and I laid in our bunk beds, in our summer pajamas, in the dark whose obscurity was sliced in half by the light slipping past the door held slightly ajar. Mummy and papa had gone out for the evening, and before they left, had tucked us in, each with a kiss sur le front. But one thing about children, is that they will not rest until their insatiable curiosity is, for the time being, met with an answer of sorts.
That night, neither my brother nor I could fall asleep. So there we laid, still as logs, just as mummy had left us, with our blankets drawn up to our chin. And our eyes were wide an bright, blinking. Waiting.
When they returned, we could hear their muffled exchange of giggles and murmurs, so Kevin and I slid from our beds and crawled towards the light on the other side of our bedroom door. We watched, as my mother tip-toed around the kitchen table, carefully pulled out the first drawer, and took from it two silver spoons. But what really transfixed us was this white paper-like bag in papa’s hands. It was like a lunch bag, those brown paper ones, but it had silver letters on it, and it looked padded.
Then from that mysterious bag papa lifted this little tub – a rich burgundy color, with a gold lid and gold print. It was the most beautiful package I had ever seen.
Then my allergic brother sneezed. It blew away both his congestion and our cover. And all of a sudden we were both crouched there, morbid, and exposed in full light.
Mummy looked at papa, and papa looked at us. We stared at papa’s shoes.
“Come,” he said, “and close your eyes.” What could we do but follow?
“Say ahhh…” so we did.
And so I had my first bite of ice cream – a dreamy strawberry and cream.
Oh, and I don’t believe in ice cream makers, because ice cream was invented before the first of those things. So this ice cream, obviously, doesn’t require an ice cream maker.
Ingredients for the ice cream:
1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk, at room temperature
1.5 lb organic strawberries, frozen
splash of vanilla
To make the ice cream, scrape the condensed milk into your blender, add the strawberries, and a splash of vanilla. Let it sit for 5 minutes at room temperature so the strawberries are not diamond-hard. Then, blend at high speed, using the tamper to help the mixture along, just until smooth.
Scrape this into a freezer-safe container (I just used a metal loaf pan), wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 4 hours, or until firm.
This is udderly the most delicious strawberry ice cream I’ve had all my life, anywhere. It is so rich, with such a strong strawberry flavour, and velvety texture that’s firm and just so real like those old-school hard ice creams. You know, the kind that you always come back to after having tried all those fancy gelatos.
Simplicity, I t’adore.