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Ice Cream Around The World
Summer is almost here and for some of us—that means ice cream! As someone who loves both traveling and ice cream, I pride myself on having some in nearly every country that I visit. So, here's my summary of the world's ice cream. It would be hard for me to say which country has the best, but there are definitely some interesting finds across the globe.
Thai ice cream
Thai ice cream, while deliciously sweet and often tasting of the coconut milk that it is made of, can be a little odd. The reason is that Thai people don't always agree with the Western world as to what's a fruit and what's a vegetable. For example, corn. So, if you have any of the local Thai ice cream, expect for it to have a little bit of corn in it, or maybe even peas and beans. However, once you get past that, the icy milky flavor of Thai ice cream will be perfect on a hot, stifling day. Thai ice cream is typically chunky, with whole bits of fruits or vegetables that somehow stay soft despite being very cold.
So, if this isn't strange enough for you, consider the fact that most Thais prefer their ice cream in a hot dog bun! The hot dog bun serves as a kind of dish in which scoops of ice cream are inserted with the toppings. I know it sounds perhaps even weirder than bean ice cream, but it's not bad! The coconut milk in the ice cream soaks into the hot dog bun to make a kind of sweet-bread.
I have one special note to make about ice cream in Thailand—there are exceptions and they can be equally delicious. If you guys are in the Salaya area of Bangkok, you must go by Anya's Place, a Euro-Thai eatery that specializes in alcoholic ice cream that might be the tastiest thing to share with friends on a hot summer's night.
Italian/French ice cream
When backpacking through Europe, I expected to fall absolutely in love with gelato and glace of Italy and France. What I didn't expect, however, was for it to become my favorite possible meal-replacement. Because meals in southern Europe can often be so expensive, my partner and I often would just have a delicious bit of ice cream for lunch instead of going to a restaurant. After all, when there is simply so much to see and little money to do it on, ice cream becomes the perfect cheap, portable snack!
Also, ice cream in Italy and France, although different perhaps in texture and levels of sweetness, constitute some of the most delicious ice cream I've ever tasted. While I always prefer vanilla or sweet cream and my boyfriend prefers dark chocolate, we were never disappointed with our dessert delights.
If you're unsure about what to get or else just curious, then definitely try a sample! Vendors love to brag about being the best ice cream in the world, so tell them to prove it to you—they'll know which flavors are their best.
American ice cream
While most people know American ice cream from such brands as Ben & Jerry's or Blue Bell, I think that the truly delicious way to have American ice cream is to have it home-made. Being from the Southern US, homemade ice cream was a large part of my childhood and is still the best treat I could possibly want. If you get a chance, or even want to make it (which is very easy!), then I would try traditional homemade ice cream and then perhaps add some local in-season fruits such as strawberries or peaches.
Finding homemade ice cream can definitely be difficult for travelers, as it's typically a fixture of family gatherings. However, it is certainly not difficult to make your own. Ice cream makers can often be found at discount stores or thrift shops for a bargain and are sure to be the life of the party!
Mexican ice cream
While not really ice cream in the traditional sense of the word, Mexican paletas are as delicious as any of the other treats that I mention. Paletas, a sort of popsicle made from fresh fruit, can be either creamy or strictly fruity, and are very popular in all areas of Latin America and in parts of the southern U.S.
The texture, which in the creamy flavors is similar to ice cream, is basically that of a fruit bar fresher than anything you could find in a supermarket. Flavors include coconut, strawberry, mango, lime, rice pudding, and many others depending on the region. In America, paletas can often be found in Latino grocery stores, although I must say that the ones off the cart in Mexico are much tastier.
There is still much of the world, and therefore many kinds of ice cream, that I haven't discovered, so it'd be great if you can add your experiences with local ice creams. So, what tasty icy treats have you tasted around the world that I should include in my next travel-treat?
Photo credits: stu_spivack, creative commons