04 February 2009

Ice cream makes firemen happy!

Ten seconds before I shot this photo, these professional life savers were all smiles but with ice cream in their mouths. I was refused pictures incriminating them in indulging in their treat while on-the-clock, but they were willing to pose in front of the fire department vehicle instead. I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream…so goes the song, almost nursery rhyme that every child in the USA grew up singing. I have to confess; I love the stuff but have a lactose intolerance if I eat too much, so I rarely do. On a hot day like today though, I can be convinced to deal with the stomach cramps and bloating that will inevitably follow my treat.

In Brasil ice cream “self-service” is very popular. It is kind of like a buffet but with a scale at the end of the line. You pay for how much it weighs. (There also is a regular food version of this that I will cover at a later date). The front of the line starts with scoopers, cups, bowls and/or waffle cones, and ends with unlimited sticky, unhealthy toppings (M&Ms, chopped nuts, regular AND sweet & sour gummy worms, and marshmallow cream) to smother your frozen dessert with. The best aspect of this is that you can combine and make science experiment-looking creations that would make any five year-old proud.

The flavors range from basic flavors like vanilla and chocolate that Gringos are used to, to regional specialties made from vegetables like “chu chu” (shoo-shoo), which is a green, teardrop-shaped plant that grows on vines in tropical areas, and “abóbara com coco” (a-bow-bah-dah), or squash with coconut. Other selections of interest include “maracujá” (mah-dah-koo-zhah), or passion fruit; “goiaba” ( goy-ah-bah), or guava; “jabuticaba,” a dark berry; condensed milk; whipped cream with cashew nuts or “castanha de cajú”; Ferrero Rocher, after the famous hazelnut and chocolate candy from Italy; and a white concoction with a flavor I cannot place named “Beijinho” (which means “little kiss”).

This particular “sorvetaria” (soh-veh-tah-ree-a) is a bit over-lit and sterile, but they advertise lack of hydrogenated vegetable oil (because I prefer cream and sugar over air-poofed fat), and the exterior art murals were painted by a friend of ours. You can see a little of it behind my husband as he digs into his ice cream. The owner is also super nice and curious to ask me if the reason so many Americans are epidemically overweight because they eat bacon and eggs for breakfast. Though that is a loaded question with complex answers, I agree with him and add the statistical fact that large numbers of people there also eat nothing but processed and fast food. I also want to add that it is also because ice cream is so popular in the US, but I hold my tongue.

I kept my choices monochromatic and had pistachio and chu chu. The flavors were smooth and just like you would expect from a place that puts a little love into what they serve. Chu chu is simple and maybe a little bland, but clean and like ice cream you’ve had before. The pistachio was great since it was packed with nut pieces! Maico had vanilla with chocolate flakes and mango, topped with chocolate sauce. Can you go wrong with fruit and chocolate...delicious!

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