I enter Jeni’s Ice Cream Parlor, having already planned my order. “Could I have a waffle cone with Wildberry Lavender and Salty Caramel?” Wildberry Lavender because I wanted something relatively exotic, and Salty Caramel because what if the Lavender doesn’t agree with me?
As I make my way over to the counter, I spot my friend Alan. We greet each other, and I ask, “Hey, what flavors do you recommend, and what’s your favorite”
He replies, “I think the Milkiest Chocolate is really good. All of them are pretty good though.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve had chocolate ice cream. When I was little, I was obsessed with chocolate. Any time I wanted ice cream, my parents didn’t even have to ask; my default flavor was chocolate. But I was very particular about the flavor. It couldn’t be too dark, but it also couldn’t be too diluted with milk. I didn’t like chunks in the chocolate ice cream, although vanilla ice cream with chocolate chunks were usually okay. The chocolate couldn’t be a spin-off of an Oreo flavor or any chocolate food. It could only be one thing: smooth, chunk-less, medium dark chocolate. My addiction to chocolate started at an early age. My parents should have been more cognizant during the early stages, but they were surprisingly lenient and let my obsession snowball into something more.
I did not grow up living the same lifestyle I currently am. Attending one of the most expensive universities in America, having my own car, and traveling abroad every break, I would say my family is pretty well-off. However, this status did not come into play until more recently. During my time in Korea, ages 1-6, my family was poor.
Poor and frugal. My parents didn’t believe in spending money on anything that remotely resembled unnecessary, so my toys, stuffed animals, and my nursery decorations were all hand-made. My mom designed clothes, so she sewed most of my outfits; my dad worked in the steel industry, so he brought back useless sheets of metal and steel and shaped them into my favorite childhood toys and contraptions.
Occasionally, my dad was sent overseas through his company to seek potential clients. And every time he went, he would ask me one question, “What do you want me to bring you?” to which I replied, “The best chocolate there is!”
So my dad, against my mom’s wishes, always brought back a few bars of chocolate, the best chocolate the country could offer. I remember he brought Kinder Hazelnut Chocolate from Germany, Orange Rind Chocolates from Hong Kong, Cailler from Switzerland, and liquor filled chocolates shaped into bottles from the States. I had never been out of the country at this age, so I lived vicariously through these chocolates. Each one had a different texture; even the packaging was fascinating to me. The unfamiliar words on the chocolate bars, meaningless to me but at the same time carried so much meaning.
Because we were so poor, I knew better than to ask for ice cream or a candy bar at the convenience store. I knew my only way of tasting sweets was when my dad travelled. I remember asking my dad for ice cream once, and he looked so distraught as he shook his head “no.”
When we moved to Alabama, my dad quit his job at the steel company and started his own. Now, over 10 years later, the company is still going strong, allowing us to live comfortably. I’m not sure when the habit of my dad bringing back chocolate stopped. I’m also not sure when my love for chocolate died down. One day, I simply decided that the world offered flavors other than chocolate and if I were to try them all, I should get started now.
I finally reach the counter, and the girl in pink asks me what I want. I stumble. My perfectly rehearsed order is now scrambling in my head as I try to recollect my thoughts and assemble my memories. I manage to blurt out my choices and sit down with my cone in hand. I feel dejected. Should I have revitalized my childhood and ordered my go-to? As I lick the Salted Caramel and start crunching on the buttery waffle cone, I come to a decision. I’ll take my parents to the Atlanta Jeni’s location and try the chocolate flavor within the confines of my parent’s comfort. That’s the way I remember eating chocolate ice cream.
http://minimalistbaker.com/dairy-free-chocolate-ice-cream/ –> chocolate ice cream
http://www.candywarehouse.com/products/anthon-berg-liquor-filled-chocolate-bottles-36-piece-display/ –> liquor filled chocolate