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The Enticing Flavour of Memories

(c) Linda Hutchison August 2018

The man with the list stood before me expectantly as I scanned his delicious offerings. The choice was so difficult. I looked up at him helplessly, then back at the selections. The people behind me in the queue shuffled impatiently, but I knew that the wrong choice would leave me with ice-cream envy, and we all know how bad that is. The trouble was that each flavour offered a memory, so it came down to where I wanted to take myself emotionally. I thought, “Blow it, they can wait and learn some patience” then took in each flavour and colour with deeper consideration.
Vanilla – the creamy white billows of innocence. I remembered the tight scoop of vanilla ice-cream in a child’s cone when the only other options were strawberry and chocolate. It was cold and hard and took ages to lick your way through. Or it came in the form of a soft-serve that vanished almost as quickly as it appeared before you. Or better still it came in a large purple tub of rich Cadbury goodness from the supermarket. My son and I would bring in the shopping and top off the experience by spooning out the melted bits from around the edges of the tub. Mess around us forgotten and knowing that other members of the family would probably glare at us disapprovingly, we threw food-sharing cautions to the wind and scooped away until only the hard centre was left in the tub. The joyful glee of shared naughtiness. Ha.
Strawberry – nothing could compare to the memory of handmade strawberry ice-cream with whole strawberries, especially when you were standing in the rotunda in the main street of Halls Gap and it was your six-month-old son’s first taste of solids. We’d offered him a lick and his response had been priceless, grunting urgently for more and more until we had to say no in case he had a sugar overload. Yes, strawberry was a flavour of joy, but this overly pink sickly offering in front of me didn’t quite promise the same satisfaction, and there were more varieties to consider.
Chocolate – the trio of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate came to us early as Neapolitan ice-cream, where we generally aimed to get as much vanilla and chocolate as possible, leaving the strawberry to last. But when it came to a pure chocolate ice-cream, I just couldn’t go past an authentic Tartufo – rich chocolate ice-cream rolled in chocolate sprinkles with a glacé cherry in the centre. The pizza shop with its freezer full of Italian treats was at least 15 minutes away, so I’d have to skip chocolate this time and settle for something else.
I scanned the more recent offerings of Salted Caramel, and Cookies and Cream, then my eyes rested on the Rum and plump juicy Raisins. This was my mother’s favourite, but not for today. Peanut Caramel? No, I preferred my peanuts with some crunch. Boysenberry or passionfruit ripple with their exquisite combinations of creaminess and acidity? Uh uh. They suited a gently warm day unlike the scorching 40C that we were currently experiencing. I guess that explained the urgency of everyone around me, especially the ice-cream man who was afraid his product would melt before he could sell it. The grey of the barely-touched liquorice challenged me. Aniseed had been my preference as a radical out-there teenager, but now I had nothing to prove. I shifted my glance to the gelato at the other end of the display.
Pistachio – now there was a memory – a warm summer’s night stroll past the shops in St Kilda, preceded by a vegetarian pizza with anchovies from Leo’s and a glass of refreshing Lambrusco.
Blue – of indiscriminate flavour. I immediately thought of Mr Whippy’s ice-cream truck and the tune of Greensleeves floating through the summer air. Of my parents scrabbling for loose change before rushing out to join the neighbours on the kerb. Of dancing barefoot on the hot concrete while we waited for the truck to reach us. Of multi-coloured gelati stacked high in a waffle cone, or soft-serve dipped in chocolate and crushed nuts. But no, today I was after something far simpler.
Lemon – this was how it usually ended. I just couldn’t go past the bite of lemon gelato in heat like this. Cooling, fresh and restorative. The summer expression of a winter cafe’s citrus tart and pot of tea. I pointed and heard the audible sigh of relief from everyone behind me. He piled on the gelato and smiled at me understandingly before I paid him and walked out triumphantly with my single cone. Lemon would be the flavour of today’s bright summer memory.

The Enticing Flavour of Memories: Work
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