Ice cream is one of the oldest desserts. No one country can take credit for inventing it as so many different forms of it exist. As the summer heat approaches, I decided to take my palate around the world to see just how varied this cold treat is.
The American version of ice cream is the most common and can be found in virtually every corner of the world. Perhaps it’s the texture, the ease of making, or the flavors but when people think of ice cream they usually envision a vanilla or chocolaty scope on a cone. Americans, however, are one of the only countries that like candy bits, and the chocolate-peanuts combination in their ice cream. While other countries prefer fruit, Americans like to top off their ice cream with sprinkles.
While not as popular as the American version, it’s actually one of my favorites and the kind I tend to crave when I want ice cream. Kulfi (Indian ice cream) is very smooth in texture. One could say it’s quite granular. Its texture comes from milk boiled down to a thick liquid. The treat is served on frozen solid on a stick and can be found in various flavors from vanilla to pistachio (my personal favorite).
Turkish ice cream is one of the most exotic in my books. It’s not the flavor that’s extreme, but the stretchy consistency. In Southern Turkey, ice cream is made from ground orchid root known as sahlab–this gives the ice cream an elasticity which is generally a hit or miss for the indulger. While it is still soft enough to eat with a spoon, it is undoubtedly stretchy and almost taffy like. It’s not uncommon for people to eat it with a fork and knife depending on texture.
France likes their flowers. Whereas you may find fruity flavors in other parts of the world, in France it’s a very floral experience. Rose ice cream and lavender ice cream are very popular there. The French describe these floral flavored ice creams to be very gentle, delicate, and aromatic.
Salmiakki or salty licorice is a local favorite in Scandinavia and Sweden. Dark in color and strong in flavor this ice cream is not for those looking for a sweet treat. Salmiakki contains ammonium chloride, a pungent-smelling form of salt.
Malaysia and other East Asian countries, such as Singapore indulge in a dessert made with shaved ice when they want a cool snack. Their form of ice cream is more ice than it is cream. Known as kacang in Malaysia, it is a concoction of sweet red adzuki beans, colorful gelatin cubes, sago pearls, sweet corn, and crushed peanuts, shaved ice, condensed milk, and rose syrup.
In England, the ice cream is very similar to America’s; however, the most popular flavor in England in Neapolitan. This has always been one of my favorite flavors so I guess I’m joining the merry lot of English who prefer this flavor to others.
Ice cream is seen as a treat in most parts of the world, but in Mexico it’s a meal. It’s not something you eat after a dish, it is the dish. Start your meal with some fig ice cream; move into your main course with some scrumptious tequila ice cream, and for dessert, some tangy passion fruit ice cream. Now that’s what I call a well-balanced meal.
Is it just me, or does Japan like to one up everyone? While the rest of us are satisfied with fruits, nuts and rose petals in our ice cream, Japan decides horse meat is the way to go. Basashi, is ice cream made with horse meat and in many cases has horse chunks inside. This is one ice cream I just can’t bring myself to taste. Perhaps because the version I saw was the chunky kind and it was a bit too adventurous for me. But it has been described as sweet.
What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Photo credits to the owners