Ice Cream Memories

A few weeks ago, the hair on Julie’s cello bow fell off. We found a luthier in San Jose and drove the 25 minutes to an unfamiliar part of town. Seeing the matching address, I pulled forward into street parking directly in front of the shop and the Mexican restaurant next door. The luthier shop itself was a remodeled house built decades ago: violins and viola lined the walls of what once must have been the small living room and dining room.

Altogether, our visit was quick, and we were told to come back in a few days to pick up the repaired bow. Normally, we would have headed straight home, but we saw a vintage-looking Foster’s Freeze on the block on our drive in and decided to treat ourselves to some ice cream.

Took the picture from the car while driving away
Took the picture from the car while driving away

After we ordered and paid for our ice cream, the owner asked if we wanted “one more for the cello” as he pointed at the case on Julie’s back. We laughed, then took the raspberry cheesecake twister he handed us to sit down and eat.

If you’re unfamiliar with the twister, you’re not. It’s soft serve ice cream with a mix-in flavor, like butterfingers or M&Ms. They’re also known as McDonald’s McFlurry or Dairy Queen’s Blizzard. Whatever you call it or whoever makes it, it’s delicious, thick enough to be turned upside down, and comes in sizes larger than any single person should eat. Somehow, combining soft serve ice cream with chocolate bars is exactly as good as it should be.

Most of my Blizzard consumption came on summer road trips with my family. I can’t tell you where any single Dairy Queen is, but I can guarantee you that I could one by driving on a highway for an hour anywhere in the US between 2 big cities. We never considered getting hot food at DQ: it was always about the ice cream, and the blizzards specifically, at that. There are too many flavors for me t confidently have a favorite, but I was always trying something new and hoping that my sisters got something different as well to try.

Even outside of road trips, ice cream was always important in my family. My grandpa kept ice cream in his basement deep freezer for my weekend visits after doing dim sum. He only had the universally derided wafer cones, but I couldn’t complain about a vehicle for ice cream. Once, he got maple ice cream instead of the usual vanilla: it sounds delicious now but apparently didn’t pass muster for 5 year old Kevin. When I performed the rare act of rejecting ice cream, he ended up eating it himself on the patio while I played in a kiddie pool in the backyard.

My other grandparents were big ice cream fans: they had blocks of Chapman’s ice cream their freezers everywhere they went. We would have defrosted slices of cake with ice cream on top. I think they enjoyed it just as much as I did, and I hope they kept the habit even without grandchildren around. Still, they knew that was an easy way to please and share something with us .

My mom also regularly got us ice cream at the mall. I always got SuperKid ice cream at Laura Secord, and we probably covered the 32 flavors at Baskin-Robbins, too. I can’t remember if she got ice cream, too: I hope so. Even now, we still talk about ice cream. A lot of plans are still up uncertain for when my family comes out to the bay area in a few months, we all agree that the Kitchen Sink is a must.

I don’t know many people without allergies who don’t like ice cream, and given how much children enjoy it, ice cream is an easy love to share between generations. Food is a very common way for families to show how much they care, whether it be that warm chicken noodle soup or those soft chocolate chip cookies. Even within food, however, ice cream has a special place: it stays when generations change ethnic cuisines or health diets or just different preferences. It is shared both in the home kitchen and outside to the local ice cream parlor, or in my case, the Dairy Queen in the middle of nowhere, USA. The diversity of flavors makes it both flexible to tastes and enduring as an idea. And it’s something that we can pretty much always use to return to childhood memories.

Of course, it isn’t always the same thing. Last week, Julie and I went to the mall, and I had Dippin’ Dots for the first time.

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I had seen them in malls countless times before and had always been curious. Julie gave a good explanation for why she (and I) didn’t like them: one of the best qualities of ice cream is how smooth and creamy it is. Dippin’ Dots are definitely not smooth and creamy. Even so, I found myself desperately trying to scoop up the last of the melted syrup at the bottom of the cup when I finished.  Ice cream is still ice cream and has some essence that can take you back to other serving you have ever had.

Intersections

This past weekend, my mom and grandparents came to Stanford for parents’ weekend. They reserved a time-share up in Napa Valley for the week before, and drove down on Friday, then took me to Napa to stay with them for two nights. It’s different, seeing them in a different life for me, but it confirmed some of what I know about my family.

My family has a weakness for two things: ice cream and cheap stuff. Before my mom arrived, I discovered that my candy stash from the day after Hallowe’en had lost much of its chocolate. I was going to make another candy run after Valentine’s, but my mom did the chore and brought some to me.

Naturally, there’s a direct relationship between percent discount and quantity bought. And Target was selling candy at 90% off. I now have enough candy for the state of California.

My family also doesn’t watch much TV at home. Instead, we binge on the holidays. During the two evenings I spent in Napa, we watched the news, movies, sports, cooking shows, whatever looked interesting. That Saturday night, we watched “Forrest Gump,” which was just a really cool experience. It’s generally a great movie, but there’s something about that bridge, about watching it with my mom and grandpa that made it extra-cool.

But past that, I enjoyed exposing them to what was going on with my life on campus. We walked around campus some, and I pointed out buildings, and tidbits of varying levels of interestingness (real word). I’ve been toying around with the idea of next year, time permitting, trying to become a tour guide for the campus. That sounds like a really fun job.

We ate at the wonderful Wilbur Dining, they saw my room, took them down to the Music Archives, and so on. I introduced them to several of my friends, though I’m certain they won’t really remember any of them. Seeing them shake hands was still weird. Like seeing Bugs Bunny at Disney World.

In another week, my sister will be coming to Stanford, which should be just as fun. Mayhaps I’ll get a chance to see all of campus that I’ve missed so far.

I’ve posted the write-up for “Overtoasted” in one post. Please excuse that some points may be unclear, as I glossed over facts that were understood by people in my class.

And I have the feeling that that blog is going to run silent for awhile. This blog will definitely link to the next update.