Mary Beth Writes

DQ will never look the same. This photo is of a patio where one eats their gelato, somewhere in Italy. 



What is the thing most people spend a great deal of time, energy, and money keeping off our necks and out of our homes?

Chilly air

What is ice cream?

Chilly air with sugar.

There are many tantalizing points in human history where people have assembled and enjoyed cold or frozen treats. Old Greek guys and old Romans. The Chinese mixed up chilly sweet desserts by the 800’s; possibly Marco Polo brought back recipes (or possibly we just like the idea of Marco Polo at a 12th century Chinese DQ). Italians tasted Arab sharabt, said wow, and stole the recipe for sherbet and then flavored it with cherry, pomegranate, or quince. I need to taste pomegranate sherbet or possibly I need to marry it.

(Len has a hat like this.)

In 1686, a Sicilian named Francesco (I’m not telling you his last name because you will not remember it) opened a café in Paris that became a meeting place for patrons including Benjamin Franklin, Victor Hugo and Napoleon. Francisco (or more likely, one of his cooks) invented gelato and then introduced it to the rest of us.

The first time I tasted gelato was in, I kid you not, Siena, Italy. Our kids were with us on a trip of a lifetime; we were walking through that gorgeous old town when we saw a gelato shop with what we thought was going to be upscale ice cream. We went in and bought a cone for each of us.

Walked back outside, took our first tastes, swooned. One of us asked, “Do angels make this?” I leaned against a Renaissance wall and slowly consumed every bite of my virgin gelato with a reverence saints reserve for communion.

After which an Italian pigeon pooped on me. Oh, Italy.

We each ate a gelato every single day after that except for our tiny 8-year-old who ate two per day.

In the 1700’s people discovered that if you stir-churn the mixture long enough, while keeping it very cold, this brings air into the concoction and now you have ice cream worthy of the name. In 1790, while he was president, George Washington spent $200 to supply his household with whatever was needed to make ice cream and since his staff was enslaved people, none of that was wages. I just looked this up; $200 then is worth $6500 now. For ice and cream and fruit and sugar. Wow.

If you have a blender, here is a recipe:

1 10 oz package of frozen strawberries

½ cup sugar

2/3 cup cream

Combine the berries and sugar in the blender or food processor. Process until berries are roughly chopped. Pour in the cream slowly and let it mix a minute or two or more.

What you are doing is incorporating chilly air into sugar.

I tried this a few days ago, but I didn’t have berries at hand so I used leftover coffee I’d frozen the night before and 1% milk because we had no cream. I put it in our bullet mixer (hence could not pour in the milk slowly). It was a big mess and you know what? It was tasty. I’m going to get better at this.

And then I’m going to maybe figure out pomegranate or quince (what is quince?) sherbet or gelato. And then I’m going to date Marco Polo. Len come along, too, with his hat that matches Mark's. 

(Wikipedia was the source for most of this. But you already knew that, right?)




Ha! Chilly air with sugar. I’m pretty sure I was the one that suggested ice cream. As sad as this is - I’ve never tasted gelato nor have I been to Italy. Enjoyed the read.

I'm going to try your blender Ice Cream recipe!
Mary Beth's picture

Yesterday, writing this while sunshine poured in the window, this made more sense than it does today, gloomy and chilly out there. With prediction for snow (sigh) again tonight.

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Because I now have my Substack site where I can publish my stories, its more exciting to write fiction. I’m working on a story now.

Meanwhile, here’s a newspaper column of yore. If you like cats, you will probably like it. If you don’t like cats, well, you are missing a lot of grace, humor, and vacuuming opportunities.

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Today is 1350 days since the that March Friday in 2020 when we all went into quarantine.

Today is 60 years since JFK was assassinated on November 22, 1963. I remember that day, so does Len, so do many of you. Here’s a scary truth. We are as far today from that day – as that day was from the Wright brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk on Dec 17, 1903.

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