Thursday, May 25, 2006


SO I GO WITH THE CHOCOLATE


We went out on an excursion in the sunny yesterday across the Lake to the splendid Botanical Garden where we had a wondrous walk among the colorful plants and then went off into the hinterland to find some quality soba for lunch but what I want to talk about is ice cream.

So from where I'm eating my soba I can see the ice cream counter at the entrance to the restaurant and I'm looking forward to getting some ice cream after lunch because at a quick side glance on the way in I noted EIGHT ice cream tubs, an unprecedented number of choices for an ice cream counter out in the country, where, if they have a radical two tubs it's usually vanilla on the left and vanilla on the right, in what I call Japan's Vanilla Syndrome (which applies to other aspects of Japan as well, such as its politics); if there's a rare third choice in the middle, it's vanilla too, so it's a long time since I've had any chocolate.

Eight tubs! Be still, my heart! So when I finish I get right up and head over there with no further ado whatsoever, my mind is already filling with darkly sweet visions of cool smoothness welling up from the chocolate depths of the psyche in nirvanal anticipation.

Expertly I note at once that they have Vanilla, what a surprise, then beside that a visually undistinguishable flavor tantalizingly called "Milk," then comes an identically white flavor called "Rich Milk," for the more daring connoisseur, then there's a radical shift to a remotely pink-tinged vanilla item brazenly labeled "Strawberry," then a vanilla with vaguely dusty flecks of a darker something in it, presumptively labeled "Chocolate Chip" - we're getting warmer - then comes a pale kind of mixture called "Green Tea" that I can't really say is green, there's more of a vanilla look to it, then comes "Blueberry," identical in color to a shirt I once planned to wear to Woodstock, but I can't see a single berry; then we cut to the chase! Beside the berryless blue stuff, filling the number 8 spot, there's: empty space, crammed with the absence of superbly flavored chocolate, maybe with roasted almonds in it.

So I go with the absence of chocolate. It's invisible but free. And immediate. Tastes like vanilla.

9 comments:

Joycelyn said...

The Japanese country ice cream choices sound a lot like the Alaskan fruit choices. Let's see, apples and more apples and then there are apples and next to them apples and after that, oranges and sometimes bananas. We also get pears and additional citrus fruit, but mostly the hold trinity of what used to be winter fruits.

Robert Brady said...

Oranges? Bananas? Pears? Apples? However do you decide among so many diversely tasty choices?

Mary Lou said...

Damn! Now you have me wanting some starbucks coffee ice cream, and I have been soooo GOOD lately!!

Mick Brady said...

Bob, on the upside, you don't have to worry about middle-age spread, as we chocolate-engorged Americans do. And remember: the cone is always fuller on the other side of the fence.

Val said...

My high bliss moment of all time (and this will tell you what a quiet life I lead!) was last year - eating green tea ice cream in front of cherry blossom by the lake in Heian Jingu. A cliché I know.

Winston said...

A Baskin & Robbins 31 Flavor store would be to die for in Japan. Or maybe they have them, or equivalent, in the cities...

Robert Brady said...

They used to have the 31 flavor places, some years ago, but they languished and faded away in the face of a public overwhelmed by such diversity of choice. That was back when the cars were all white too, since other colors were harder to sell as used. Now you can buy cars (generally) in up to 4 dull colors, with white still the most popular.

Pam said...

I had to post this for you!
http://flickr.com/photos/pamelab/155988456/

(And this is the local place with the lesser number of choices. The other one has 75 flavors.)

Robert Brady said...

Thanks for the additional torture, Pam.