An Ice Cream Sundae. At 11:30 p.m. or so on Mardi Gras. My yearly custom, for many years, was to take a bowl of Whitey’s Ice Cream, cover it with Butterscotch and/or Carmamel and/or Chocolate Sauce, maybe throw on some peanuts, and enjoy my last indulgence before the start of Lent.
Ice Cream. I was raised on it. Ice cream was considered a perfect snack food at one time, believe it or not, because, being a dairy product, it contained Calcium for healthy teeth and bones, protein for strong muscles, and was, of course, chock full of Vitamin D.
My Mom and Mrs. Griggs from across the street (we had 8 kids, they had 5) found a dairy where they could buy those big ice cream parlor tubs (are those five gallons?) of Meadow Gold ice cream for just above wholesale price. Of course, at such a discount, we were sometimes captive to the flavors which were available. From the ever popular vanilla or chocolate, to fudge ripple, to the one flavor I would never eat, chocolate chip (where were the chocolate chips after all? ground up I guess). When that source went out of business there were always half gallon cartons of Neapolitan and other flavors on hand. So, throughout my formative years, our basement freezer always had ice cream ready to eat.
About 9 o’clock every evening my dad would go down for his bowl of ice cream. Sometimes he would wait until 10 p.m., I guess, to eat his Ice Cream while watching Maverick on channel 4. They had Maverick at 10 instead of evening news, which would come at 11. Anyway, we kids often went with my dad or before or just after to get our bowls of creamy, healthy goodness.
Whitey’s Ice Cream is special to any Quad Citian of any stripe. There are competitors, yes, in the Home Made Ice Cream Business around the QCA, but I would say Whitey’s would always come out on top. That is because their ice cream is made with 12 % butter fat. When I was living in Princeville, I would shop at the Eagles (then Sullivans) in Kewanee, and raid their stock of Whitey’s ice cream every time. Swiss Almond Chocolate, Chocolate Chip
Cookie Dough (and you could see the chocolate chips!), Moose Tracks, or even plain old Chocolate, Strawberry, or Vanilla, yummy goodness.
And so, on Mardi Gras, as my own quiet celebration, I would fix an ice cream Sundae, and enjoy that 12 % butterfat, spoonful by delicious spoonful, letting each bit dissolve on my tongue before moving onto the next spoonful. It is no wonder, then, that I would often give Ice Cream up for Lent.
Ice Cream is not a factor for me here in Italy. There are Italian Ices and gelati, of course, which as a student or tourist I used to eat with some regularity, but I got tired of the sour sameness of the fruit flavors and don’t really ever indulge. Gelato would not be a good thing for me to give up for Lent, as it is rarely a temptation.
So, now we have begun the Fast, the season of Lent. My mother and old timers remember and keep the old fast, which of course all are encouraged to follow, of one full meal a day throughout all of Lent, and meat only once a day through many of the Lenten weekdays. It is certainly a good thing to impose practices like that upon oneself out of love for Christ.
On official fast days, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I have to admit, foods which never seemed very important seem to want to jump off the shelf, and seem instantly more tempting. I am not a morning eater, I seldom eat anything before 11 a.m. on most days, unless I am exercising, but on Fast Days those Frosted Mini Wheats seem very attractive. This morning as I came into my main room, what should I have left on the table from Monday night’s movie night? Some Chips Ahoy cookies which a friend had mailed over, AND a box of After Eight chocolate mints. I chuckled and quickly put them away.
So, don’t worry too much about your temptations on this Ash Wednesday. I am sure reading my praise of Ice Cream, above, had the desired effect of making your mouth water. Resist your temptations, but realize that they are really symbols, perhaps indicators, of what you are attached to in your life: potato chips, french fries, Fanny May Candies (or Sees for those on the West Coast, or I suppose Cote d’Or or Godiva for Europeans), but also gossip, backbiting, envy, lust and the many other sins which afflict us daily.
Dieu soit beni!