30 April 2007

Hints of Summer

New England is the number one consumer of ice cream in the nation. I found that fascinating because most of the stands are only open in the summer! I remember the first year we moved here (In January) and went into a sub shop that also advertised ice cream. They had the cutest sign on the ice cream counter:
Closed for the Season: Reason? It's Freezin'!
Even the chain ice cream stands like Dairy Queen shut their doors for the winter. It is common knowledge, afterall, that if you are open year round you are not a "real" ice cream stand...
Growing up in the Midwest the top of the line ice cream was that which came from Dairy Queen, or Baskin Robbins. Some of the best New England stands are attached to dairy farms. Two of my absolute favorites are Kimballs Farm out in Jaffrey (and MA), and the Wright place out on the coast. It is the richest, creamiest ice cream around.
The lingo varies from place to place as well. Out west if you order a milk shake you get a thick ice cream flavored with chocolate strawberry or vanilla. If you order a milk shake in New England you will a concoction made mostly of milk and flavoring. I learned quickly that if I wanted a "milk shake" and was in New England I should order a frappe.
Sizing is also a big point of contention. The chain stores have set standards for small, medium, and large. It is not uncommon for us to have ice cream instead of a meal here. You need to be really hungry and be in an air conditioned room if you order a large! My father made that mistake once. He ordered a large at the Wright Place on a CONE!! He had tongue cramps before he was even half way through! Luckily we were in an air conditioned place so the melting did not overwhelm as much as it could have! To explain, a "large" cone has five large (think almost double a standard) scoops and stands almost a foot tall. I generally order a Quarter Kiddie which has just one (think heaping half pint) scoop. If you want two flavors you have to get a Half Kiddie which is like a heaping pint.
This week was the big Grand Opening week. Most of the stands around are now open for the summer. The mid-westerner in me won out and we christened the season with a Blizzard at Dairy Queen. While I wouldn't be boasting about that in local company, we were in heaven! It lived up to all the hype!

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