A dream of ice-cream
As kids, ice-cream occupied a central place in the tuck menu, the icier the better
As Cole Porter said, it's too damn hot. Where there is fire, there is an implication of ice, and where there is summer, there is a dream of ice-cream.
As kids, ice-cream occupied a central place in the tuck menu, the icier the better. Every school uniform has borne those neon stains, like hickeys left by the ice-bite of an orange or raspberry bar, a kala khatta baraf ka gola, or further back, that slab of orange or green ice in a plastic sleeve called pepsi
or chuski. But, nothing was as dreamy as that rare treat: an ice-cream sundae.
According to me an ice-cream sundae should be a vision of abundance. It is also an excursion into childlike fun; a fairy-land carnival of tastes, colours and textures. A sundae should have a few different ice-cream flavours following each other like swing dancing couples and hence, many colours. Importantly, it should feature fruit in all its glory — bananas and mangoes whose plump flesh yields to your mouth, strawberries or pineapples, crisp and light as youth, cherries — fresh ones, never maraschino — berries of every kind. I've even had papaya and not minded it. A sauce is good, if the sauce is good — a melba sauce can sometimes surprise. Chocolate sauces, darkened with liquor are lovely. The jury is unanimous on crunch, whether it comes from nuts, sweet wafers, tuilles, smarties or broken chocolate. Then, there is jelly or jell-o, which can be a cheerful addition. Its shiny translucence, giggly-wobbly squares, lend a light-hearted air. A good ice-cream sundae is a frilly dress, a silly hat, a wittily flirtatious stranger on a train. It's a good-humoured indulgence. If a sundae were a person it would make you laugh and give great hugs.
However, of late I find I am standing sadly in the moonlight, singing "woh sundae hai kahan?" Everywhere you look, on posh menus and regular ones, a real ice-cream sundae is hard to find. There are some grudging trios of ice-cream in esoteric flavours. But, most of all there is a lot of chocolate.
Let me pause to say, I love chocolate. Of course! And that despite my longing for fruity fantasias, perhaps the bestest sundae of all continues to be Nirulas hot fudge sundae — a big-hearted, big-bottomed luxury of creamy vanilla, dense chocolate fudge and roasted nuts topped by a sweetly cheeky cherry. But, few hot-fudge sundaes have this flair. Read description after description of chocolate with chocolate, doused in chocolate, or covered in caramel popcorn, maybe a little apologetic vanilla, and the world starts to look, well, brown. I start to get the same #BoreMatKarYaar feeling as when someone tells me a film is good simply because it doesn't have songs. When did this solemnity take over ice-cream sundaes? Who said sundaes can be grown up only if they're fake-fancy, speaking in husky chocolate voices? If sophistication is what they're going for, what about dense plum ice-cream or raspberries over coffee cream? But it's as if fearing the old-fashioned fun of this bountiful dessert, all sundaes are now supposed to be decadent in the tritest sense of the word. Self-hate? In ice-cream?!
Chefs! It is summer. We're sitting here screaming for ice-cream. Bring us a technicolored song sequence in an ice-cream glass!
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevipictures.com
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