To listen to food mavens the world over, the best food is that grown or made close to home.
How we got to this place where geography supplants sugar and butter-content in relation to food quality is beyond me, and I would do some serious journalistic work to track this progression if I was not so lazy.
It is this kind of thinking that led me to risk $10 on a 1,000 ml carton of local chocolate ice cream.
I am risk-averse in the extreme. For years I ordered the same kind of food in the same kind of restaurants until my friends, thinking that chicken fingers might be forming crusts in my extremities, took me to an international dining establishment and forced me to eat food that even today I cannot name, such was the trauma of ingesting foreign cuisine. The restaurant might have been a Taco Bells.
But to get back to the 1,000 ml of local-to-Switzerland chocolate ice cream: Why do they say “1,000 ml” on the tub instead of one-litre? Here’s why: $10 for 1,000 units of anything looks like a good deal, while $10 for one unit of anything seems to be not so much. This was my first clue that the ice cream may be more about “brand” and marketing than it about the serious work of arterial clogging.
The Schokoladen/Chocolate ice cream “Polarfuchs” (I didn’t name it, I just bought it), is made of milk, sugar, cream, egg yolk, chocolate, “Mars,” binding and carob bean.
Until it hits the word “Mars,” for which I can find no German translation, the recipe is the same as mine, except that I would never put milk in ice cream. Ice cream should carry an air of danger that invigorates the consumer with the breathtaking possibilities of keeling over from a heart-attack or stroke before making it to the bottom of the dish. Milk alone will never accomplish this. Cream is needed, Devonshire cream if it is handy.
Moving further down the list, “binding” triggers suspicion. I’ve never had any problem getting ice cream to bind to my thighs. Why add more? Am I not thick enough? And carob bean – pah, who puts carob bean in a quality chocolate product?
Nevertheless, it is “local,” made about a 20-minute bike ride from my home. It even comes in a cute non-sophisticated white container and has a homespun website that, despite its simplicity, I can tell they must have paid good money for because homespun does not necessarily come cheap in the electronic world.
I don’t want to pick on an upstart ice cream manufacturer based on one sampling of its product line, but this ice cream stinks, with so little chocolate in it as to render it almost tasteless.
And yet, according to food magazine writers, this should be the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. It’s dairy comes from Swiss cows. I’m in Switzerland. It’s chocolate comes from Swiss chocolatiers. Again, I am in Switzerland. The manufacturer even names the families who supply their ingredients. I’m close enough. I’ll bet I could find those families. Wouldn’t they be surprised?
On the upside: It’s consistency is quite pleasant and might be just the thing for people who find North American brands’ flavorings a little overwhelming. Also, it beats the last local sorbet I tasted in 2003. That was in Sooke and the sorbet was made from locally harvested seaweed. I did not spit out the spoonful of this stuff at the time because I was painfully aware of my own palate’s limitations, but in hindsight, it was another frozen dessert travesty.
I don’t blame the little Swiss company for all of this. I blame food gurus who fooled me into thinking this might be better than the Ben & Jerry’s that was just six inches away from this bucket.
Next: I will give Polarfuchs (remember, I didn’t name it) another chance and try out their local-strawberry ice cream.